Conte: Deaths led to 'important reflections' about football and family

Tottenham fitness coach Gian Piero Ventrone (left) died in hospital in Naples in October

Tottenham fitness coach Gian Piero Ventrone (left) died in hospital in Naples in October

TOTTENHAM manager Antonio Conte says the deaths of three close football friends within the last four months have led to “important reflections” and a realisation of the need to “give more time to your family and friends and also to yourself."

”Spurs fitness coach Gian Piero Ventrone, with whom Conte had also worked when he was a player at Juventus in the mid-1990s, died in hospital in Naples in October following a cerebral haemorrhage. The 61-year-old had been diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia only a few days earlier.

In December, Sinisa Mihajlovic, the former Lazio defender, died after being diagnosed with leukaemia two years earlier. He was a friend of Conte's and was 53 - the same age as Tottenham's manager.

Then, earlier this month, Conte's former Juventus and Italy team-mate Gianluca Vialli passed away at the age of 58 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer.

"For sure, this season is a difficult season from a personal aspect,” Conte admitted. "Because to lose in such a short time three people that I knew very well - before Gian Piero Ventrone, then Sinisa and now Gianluca, it was not simple.

"For sure, when this situation happens, it brings you to have important reflections. Because many times we think and we give a lot of importance to our work and we forget the family, we forget that we need to have more time for us.

"This season is a difficult season for me as a personal aspect. For sure, this season is making me have an important reflection on my future. When you work and the work is at the top of your mind in your head and maybe, sure, maybe (there are) times we forget to stay with the family, we forget to spend time with friends.

"But this is our passion and for the passion we lost a lot of things. When this situation happens, I think you start to think that maybe sometimes it is also good to give more time to your family and friends and also to yourself. The work is not everything in life.

"Usually when I left the club they regret me leaving a lot because they knew the way that I work and the commitment I put into the club, what I give for the club. I work a lot for this club, believe me. I give everything for the club. Not only for Tottenham - for Inter, for Juventus, for every club where I was the coach.”

Conte is out of contract at Tottenham at the end of this season.

Last year TGG carried an article asking whether families sacrifice too much for football. Among those quoted was former Blackburn Head of Performance Chris Rush, who stepped down in January 2021 in order to spend more time with his family.

He said: "The life of a support staff member in football requires 60+ hour work weeks, 11 months a year, weekends away from the family, and missed life events.

“These are the sacrifices necessary when pursuing high performance. I have lived this life happily for 15 years and have been rewarded with some fantastic experiences and memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life. However, I feel that now the sacrifice of the family is far too great.”

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