Hurting Conte pays tribute to Ventrone as Spurs boss says death of fitness guru 'hit me a lot'

By Sports Desk October 08, 2022

Antonio Conte will attend the funeral of Gian Piero Ventrone on Sunday after the Tottenham boss oversaw an emotional Premier League win at Brighton and Hove Albion.

Spurs fitness coach Ventrone died on Thursday, reportedly after being diagnosed with leukaemia, and Conte said his fellow Italian had asked just days ago if he could be allowed to miss work due to illness.

After Harry Kane's goal earned a 1-0 win for Spurs, who sit third in the table, Conte spoke about the trauma that all at Tottenham have felt over the loss of Ventrone.

It was the first time Conte had opened up in public about Ventrone, having cancelled his regular pre-match press conference on Thursday.

He said it had been "really, really difficult for us to focus on the game", saying the experience of recent days had been "incredible".

Conte had not been expecting Ventrone's death, and its impact on the former Juventus and Italy coach has been profound.

He said he was aware Ventrone's health was "really problematic" early in the week.

"But no one could have expected this situation because no one knew something about this illness," Conte said. "It was an illness but under control and then it is very difficult because the situation hit me a lot under the emotional aspect.

"When it happens, it is very difficult to cover your feeling with the players and with the people that work in Tottenham.

"At the same time, I have seen a lot of solidarity. The players were really devastated by the pain and in the whole Tottenham environment the feeling was really bad because in only 10 months I think Gian Piero got through the heart of everybody."

Ventrone was a man Conte wanted on his Spurs staff, confident he would make his players stronger and fitter, with the pair having known each other for 30 years.

He described Ventrone as "a scientist". Conte spoke to Ventrone on the Thursday prior to his death, when illness was taking a toll. Ventrone said he was experiencing "a bit of a fever" and felt he could not attend training, according to Conte, but at the same time he was reluctant to be absent.

Conte said Ventrone then spoke to him about his health situation, and in turn was told not to worry about his Tottenham duties but to take care of himself.

Manager Conte said Spurs' players were "really devastated" by news of Ventrone's death, which came at the age of 62. Many have paid fond tributes to the trainer.

"Sometimes life puts you in difficult situations, but we have to cope in the best possible way to overcome this situation," Conte said in an interview posted by Tottenham. "But we'll never forget Gian Piero. Gian Piero will live in my heart and my head."

Conte explained a Tottenham delegation, which he is expected to lead along with chairman Daniel Levy, will head to Naples for the funeral.

"I want to tell his son and daughter that they need to be strong because Gian Piero was strong, a strong character," Conte said.

"He doesn't want to see us unhappy. It's difficult to make him happy because we are really devastated by the pain."

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