Conte would 'die' without football

Chelsea's Italian head coach Antonio Conte arriving for the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea at White Hart Lane in London, on Jan 4, 2017.
Chelsea's Italian head coach Antonio Conte arriving for the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Chelsea at White Hart Lane in London, on Jan 4, 2017.PHOTO: AFP

LONDON • Antonio Conte understands Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola's recent comments about early retirement from management, but the Italian says he cannot imagine life without football.

Guardiola, 45, told the media last week that he is "arriving at the end" of his coaching career, before clarifying that he will not be quitting management any time soon.

"I have great respect for Pep and I think that when you have a method, when you have a philosophy of football, an idea you want to bring in every team you manage, you spend a lot of energy," Conte said.

"And sometimes it can happen that you are a bit tired, more tired, in some periods.

"I'm sure that Pep wants to continue for a long time. I think his work is fantastic."

The Chelsea manager cannot imagine his own life without football as he targets another 20 years as a manager.

"Twenty more years? Now I'm 47. I prefer that my wife doesn't listen to this! This is our life," he said.

"Football is our life and it's right to continue to live in football.

"In the moment that football is not in our life, I think probably we die."

Chelsea are top of the table in Conte's first season at the club and he is hoping to build a legacy at Stamford Bridge, citing former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson and Arsenal's Arsene Wenger as examples.

"Sir Alex Ferguson is a good example for me. When I see him, but also when I see Arsene, they are a big example for me," said the Italian.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 10, 2017, with the headline 'Conte would 'die' without football'. Print Edition | Subscribe