ANTONIO CONTE is lined up to return to our shores.
The former Chelsea boss, 52, is the favorite to take over from beleaguered Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Old Trafford.
Famously, the Italian won the Premier League title with the Blues, before squabbling with the hierarchy at Stamford Bridge and getting the boot.
Last season, he returned the name Inter Milan to the pride of the Italian league, before leaving the club in the midst of a storm, after they were forced to sell the talents of stars in the wake of a financial crisis.
Fiery Conte has come a long way since growing up in Leece as an altar boy, and as a devout Catholic, he was famous for carrying holy water, which he sprinkled on the pitch.
It is the divine intervention United may need if they are to regain some momentum in the title race.
The highly religious coach, who also led Juventus in his playing days, has shown himself to be a leader from a young age.
Growing up in southern Italy, he took great responsibility for the liturgy that made him the darling of priests.
Conte revealed: “When I helped with Mass, the priest would decide who would carry the big candles and I’ve always wanted to be criticized.
“When this was my day and I was so happy! I loved being in charge and organizing all the other altar boys.”
Conte started his football career with Lecce Club in his hometown.
A persistent and hardworking midfielder who kept things simple, he made his debut at the age of 16 – showing maturity well beyond his years.
A tibia fracture in 1987 threatened to derail his career, but he returned to the field a year later and made 99 appearances for the club.
In 1991, he got the dream of moving to Juventus when he was signed by Giovanni Trapattoni.
They would form a strong bond as Conte would later refer to as his second father.
The ball winner became a servant of Juventus for 13 years, amassing 420 matches for the club.
He won the Italian Serie A five times, while adding on the European stage two Champions League and European Cup medals to his illustrious cup treasury.
For many years he was the captain of Juventus during their most historic moment.
Conte made 20 appearances for his country as well, and was a member of both the 1994 World Cup and Euro 2000 that finished runners-up.
Given his nature, Conte was expected to take the step in management.
However, he had to cut his teeth at a lower level – first with the second division player Arezzo, which he could not save from relegation.
Then, more successful with Barry, who got out of the relegation battle. It is remarkable that after a season, he achieved the unthinkable and led the club to promotion.
In 2009, he was overlooked for a vacant position at Juventus. Instead, he joined Atalanta but under pressure from their ultras he tendered his resignation after four months with the club in 19th place in Serie A.
He returned with Siena in Serie B, and once again showed his wits to advance to the First Division – he did so in his first season.
In 2011, Conte finally received a call to return to his spiritual home and was installed as president of Juventus.
Despite some doubts about whether he had the experience, the club has won three consecutive Serie A titles under Tactical.
However, after disappointment on the European stage, Conte resigned from his position during pre-season in 2014.
Many believe it was due to his lack of support in the transfer market. Faith nourishes him.
“Well, you can’t eat in a €100 restaurant with only €10 in your pocket, can you?” He responded to Juventus’ plans for next season, which was seen as an attack on the club’s managers, he said just days before his walk.
During his three-year tenure in the administration of the Old Lady, Conte was plagued by a scandal dating back to his Siena days.
He was accused of failing to report attempted match-fixing by former Siena star Filippo Carrobio, who was linked to the betting disaster that tarnished the Italian game’s reputation in the 2011-12 season.
During a meeting before a match against Novara, Siena owner Massimo Mizaroma indirectly sent a message to the players asking them to make sure the match ended in a draw, Carrobio said during a meeting before a match against Novara.
It is alleged that Mezzaroma wanted to make a big profit from a bet he made. The match ended 2–2 and Carrobio testified that Conte was present when the message was passed on to the players.
Carrobio also claimed the result of the season finale, in which Siena lost 1-0 to AlbinoLefee, was prearranged after Siena’s assistant manager asked him and another player to “call someone at AlbinoLeffe to come to an agreement on the second leg”.
Other allegations targeted Conte regarding the 5-0 win over Varese, a match in which Carrobio accused his coach of knowing he had been asked to lose, but did not report it.
Conte denied all charges through his attorney, and took their advice to get a court deal, which would have seen him serve a three-month ban and receive a fine.
But the Italian authorities rejected it and imposed a 10-month ban on him, although Conte insisted his innocence.
Juventus resumed weeks later, and Conte’s touchline ban was shortened to four months.
Their players later dedicated their victory over the Supercoppa Italiana to their manager under fire.
In 2016, a pre-trial judge at Cremona Conte court finally acquitted all charges related to his alleged involvement in the match-fixing scandal.
During the Scommessopoli investigation, Conte expressed gratitude to his wife Elisabetta and daughter Vitoria for their support.
Among them, he said, “I have a great woman by my side, a woman who always tries to understand me. As for my daughter, she is the other woman in my life. She begins to understand that her father gets nervous when he doesn’t win [a match]. “
blue is the color
A month after his departure from Juventus, Conte took over the position of the Italian national team following the resignation of Cesare Prandelli.
It was only a two-year deal, with Conte reluctant to commit to more.
He suffered his first defeat after 10 matches, 1-0 to Portugal in a friendly match.
Nonetheless, he did manage to comfortably lead Italy to the Euro 2016 qualifiers, and then exit the group stage of the competition, where he won praise for his side’s defensive strength and team organisation.
But after they lost to Germany in the quarter-finals on penalties, he admitted that time was running out and that he was desperate to “return to a state of decline and rush in club football”.
Two months later, he will take the Stamford Bridge hot seat after just 25 games with the Azzurri.
Roman Abramovich came in 2016, and Conte’s debut season at Chelsea couldn’t be better.
His title win in his first Premier League campaign, in which the West London side won an astonishing 30 league wins from 38 games, was spoiled a bit by the FA Cup final loss to Arsenal.
However, he got a new contract for another two years.
His second season was disappointing, with the club finishing fifth among the Champions League places.
They won titles, though, and lifted the FA Cup by beating Manchester United 1-0.
But things began to fall apart when Conte fell out with Diego Costa, who sent an infamous text telling the centre-forward he wasn’t part of his plans.
Then, there were clashes with the transfer hierarchy – the Italian said in an interview that Chelsea “lost momentum” after failing to sign the players he wanted, including Romelu Lukaku and Virgil van Dijk.
Conte was sacked in 2018 and replaced by Maurizio Sarri, but received £26.6m in compensation for his team and his legal fees.
Conte’s winning habit carried over to Inter, but he had to wait a season for that to happen.
A promising first campaign saw me finish second in the Nerazzurri in both Serie A and the Europa League.
There was an epic showdown between Seville star Ever Banega and Conte during the European final, who mocked him about his hair transplant and shouted at him on the touchline: “Let’s see if his wig is real.”
But the foundation was ready for a title challenge the following year, as Conte’s master plan began to bear fruit.
With the signature he wanted at Chelsea, Lukaku, who led his streak, was champion for the first time in eleven years.
They also finished Juventus’ streak of nine consecutive titles, storming the championship with 91 points – 12 points behind rivals AC Milan.
Conte departed in the summer’s blaze of glory – with the club asserting that his departure was by mutual consent.
The grumbling about the lack of transport support before he left has been constant, with growing rumors of unrest.
Inter have also been stripped of the assets of stars including Lukaku and Achraf Hakimi with Suning Holdings Group owners forced to balance the books after the coronavirus pandemic hit their finances.
With that in mind, wherever Conte goes, he wants guarantees on the budget he’ll get for his next challenge.
Choosing the richest club in the world for their next venture is definitely a no-brainer.