Antonio Conte is relishing the "challenge" of the Napoli job and has promised the fans a "seriousness" in his approach to getting the club back among the contenders in Serie A.

The Italian, who returned to management after a 15-month absence following his departure from Tottenham, was unveiled to the fans for the first time after signing a three-year contract with the club earlier this month.

The Partenopei won the Scudetto with five games to spare in 2022-23 but could not follow that success up last season as they stumbled through their title defence.

Napoli went through three managers last season after Luciano Spalletti’s departure in June 2023, with Rudi Garcia and Walter Mazzarri getting fired before Calzona oversaw the last few months of the campaign.

In the end, they finished 10th, outside the extended European places, with Conte confident Napoli will get back on top form.

"It'll take time and patience. I am of the 'those who have time don't wait for time'," Conte said. "We will try in every way to take this responsibility. This is the project. It gave me great enthusiasm, I felt something in my stomach.

"Definitely a challenge that comes at the right time. I think I'm a coach who has gained experience, which leads me to face this fascinating challenge with great desire. One person asked me: 'But aren't you afraid to go and coach Napoli?' Afraid of what?

"For me, it's a pleasure, knowing the difficulty of the challenge. Those who know me know that no one has ever given me anything. Ever. What I have won, I always won with sweat and sacrifice. It's what my parents taught me, and it's what I try to pass on to my daughter and my players.

"I know that this challenge comes at the right time for me as a person because I really want to enjoy this passion and enthusiasm.

"Because for me the difficult thing will be to change this enthusiasm and this passion, but I'm convinced that I can do it because I will put everything I have into it, as I have done in the past. That is clear."

Napoli fans became restless with their season as they won just 13 of their matches and finished on 53 points, 37 fewer than they won under Spalletti in his final year.

"What I can promise is seriousness, a word that is often underestimated. Seriousness in giving everything for Napoli, in transmitting my culture at work, my mentality.

"The transmission of my footballing ideas. The goal of a coach, besides excelling, is to make his fans proud.

"But in defeat, there mustn't be the extenuating circumstance of not having given our best. What I can promise is that we'll give our best, more than our best, because sometimes the best is not enough."

Antonio Conte is back in management after being named the new head coach at Napoli.

The former Juventus and Italy boss replaces the outgoing Francesco Calzona, signing a three-year deal at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona.

Conte returns to the dugout 15 months after leaving Premier League side Tottenham by mutual consent, and will hope to oversee an improvement on a disappointing 2023-24 season for Napoli.

Scudetto winners the previous year, the Partenopei were unable to launch a genuine title defence, finishing 10th in a campaign where they had three different coaches, firing Rudi Garcia and Walter Mazzarri before Calzona came in.

Conte won three successive Serie A titles between 2012 and 2014 with Juventus, while guiding Inter to the Scudetto three years ago. The former midfielder also led Chelsea to Premier League glory in 2017.

Club president Aurelio De Laurentiis said: "I am very proud that the new coach of Napoli is Antonio Conte. 

"Antonio is a top coach, a leader, with whom I am sure that the necessary refoundation will start after the conclusion of the cycle that led us to win the Scudetto last year after many seasons at the top of Italian football. 

"Today marks the beginning of a new important chapter in the history of Napoli."

Conte, meanwhile, told the club's website: "Napoli is a place of global importance. I'm happy and excited to sit on the Azzurri bench. 

"I can certainly promise one thing: I will do my best for the growth of the team and the club. My commitment, together with that of my staff, will be total."

 

Defiant AC Milan boss Stefano Pioli has brushed off talk that Antonio Conte is being lined up to replace him.

Milan head into Saturday’s Serie A trip to Frosinone sitting in third place in the table but seven points adrift of Juventus in second and eight behind leaders Inter Milan, who have a game in hand on both.

The top two meet at the San Siro on Sunday evening, by which point Pioli’s men will hope to have closed the gap – although whether that would placate his critics is doubtful, with the club’s receding title hopes having been dealt a further blow by last weekend’s 2-2 home draw with Bologna.

Asked about the speculation linking former Italy boss Conte with his job, the 58-year-old told a press conference: “It doesn’t bother me at all. Maybe it bores me a little.

“What matters is that I and my players think we can do our best between now and the end of the season.

“The future doesn’t worry or bother me. We just want to demonstrate, the team and I, all our value.”

Milan will run out at the Stadio Benito Stirpe defending a seven-game unbeaten league run, with Atalanta the last side to beat them in the competition on December 9.

Wins over Monza, Sassuolo, Empoli, Roma and Udinese, coupled with draws against Salernitana and Bologna, since have helped them keep pace with Inter and Juve, if only just, but Pioli insists they simply have to concentrate on themselves as they attempt to claw back lost ground.

He said: “The season is still long and can give us further satisfaction. We have to put all our attention on the next match. Inter v Juve shouldn’t interest us.”

Frosinone will take to the field having halted a five-game losing run with a home victory over Cagliari followed by a draw at Verona, although the quality of the opposition this time around is significantly higher.

Eusebio Di Francesco’s men lost 3-1 at Milan on December 2 and have won only one of the eight league games they have played since.

Di Francesco will make late decisions on a lengthy list of injury doubts including Sergio Kalaj, Riccardo Marchizza, Anthony Oyono, Jaime Baez, Pol Lirola, Kevin Bonifazi, Mateus Lusuardi, Nadir Zortea, Marvin Cuni and Arijon Ibrahimovic.

Defiant AC Milan boss Stefano Pioli has brushed off talk that Antonio Conte is being lined up to replace him.

Milan head into Saturday’s Serie A trip to Frosinone sitting in third place in the table but seven points adrift of Juventus in second and eight behind leaders Inter Milan, who have a game in hand on both.

The top two meet at the San Siro on Sunday evening, by which point Pioli’s men will hope to have closed the gap – although whether that would placate his critics is doubtful, with the club’s receding title hopes having been dealt a further blow by last weekend’s 2-2 home draw with Bologna.

Asked about the speculation linking former Italy boss Conte with his job, the 58-year-old told a press conference: “It doesn’t bother me at all. Maybe it bores me a little.

“What matters is that I and my players think we can do our best between now and the end of the season.

“The future doesn’t worry or bother me. We just want to demonstrate, the team and I, all our value.”

Milan will run out at the Stadio Benito Stirpe defending a seven-game unbeaten league run, with Atalanta the last side to beat them in the competition on December 9.

Wins over Monza, Sassuolo, Empoli, Roma and Udinese, coupled with draws against Salernitana and Bologna, since have helped them keep pace with Inter and Juve, if only just, but Pioli insists they simply have to concentrate on themselves as they attempt to claw back lost ground.

He said: “The season is still long and can give us further satisfaction. We have to put all our attention on the next match. Inter v Juve shouldn’t interest us.”

Frosinone will take to the field having halted a five-game losing run with a home victory over Cagliari followed by a draw at Verona, although the quality of the opposition this time around is significantly higher.

Eusebio Di Francesco’s men lost 3-1 at Milan on December 2 and have won only one of the eight league games they have played since.

Di Francesco will make late decisions on a lengthy list of injury doubts including Sergio Kalaj, Riccardo Marchizza, Anthony Oyono, Jaime Baez, Pol Lirola, Kevin Bonifazi, Mateus Lusuardi, Nadir Zortea, Marvin Cuni and Arijon Ibrahimovic.

Chelsea's dismissal of Graham Potter and decision not to rush into an appointment has generated speculation about their next permanent manager.

The Blues are destined to miss out on the Premier League's top four this season, thus will not qualify for the Champions League via the league.

As a result, there appears a lack of urgency as they look to get back on the right direction after sacking both Potter and Thomas Tuchel this term under new owner Todd Boehly.

TOP STORY – BLUES MULL OVER ENRIQUE, NAGELSMANN AND CONTE

Fabrizio Romano reports Frank Lampard will take over as Chelsea's interim manager, but that ex-Spain boss Luis Enrique is 100 per cent interested in the permanent position.

Enrique has flown into London for talks on the role, while the Blues will also continue talks with ex-Bayern Munich boss Julian Nagelsmann who is the leading candidate.

The Independent claims the Blues are also considering a shock return for Antonio Conte after initial contact between intermediaries.

ROUND-UP

– Football Insider reports Manchester United are keen on Southampton midfielder James Ward-Prowse. United may take advantage of the Saints' possible relegation to bolster their midfield with the 28-year-old free-kick specialist. Aston Villa and Newcastle United are also interested in him.

Liverpool are willing to cough up €40 million (£35m) for Atletico Madrid's Argentinian World Cup winner Rodrigo De Paul to bolster their midfield next term, reports Fichajes. Inter Live claims Tottenham are also interested in De Paul.

Arsenal are pondering an off-season move for Lazio midfielder Sergei Milinkovic-Savic who will be a free agent in 2024, claims Gazzetta dello Sport. The reported fee would be around €40m.

Luka Modric is disgruntled with his contract situation at Real Madrid, with his future not yet resolved with only a few months left on his deal, claims Goal.

– Fichajes claims West Ham, Leeds United and Nice are all circling for Real Madrid's Mariano who will be available on a free transfer at the end of this season.

Leicester City have shortlisted Ralph Hasenhuttl, Jesse Marsch and Oscar Garcia for their vacant managerial role according to Fabrizio Romano. The Independent's Miguel Delaney claims the Foxes are also interested in experienced pair Martin O'Neill and Rafa Benitez.

Sunday saw two more Premier League bosses dismissed from their roles.

Graham Potter's sacking by Chelsea followed on from Leicester City cutting ties with Brendan Rodgers.

That pair of dismissals took the total count of managerial departures for the season to 13 in England's top tier. Twelve of those have been sackings.

According to Opta, it is the most managerial sackings in a Premier League season by three.

The previous high mark of 10 (set in the 2013-14 season and equalled in 2017-18) was matched last season.

Yet this campaign has been even more extreme. Here, Stats Perform assesses the 13 managers to have departed.

 

Scott Parker - Bournemouth (August 30)

Just four league games had passed when Bournemouth became the first club to blink, sacking Parker on the back of a humiliating 9-0 defeat to Liverpool. Parker went on to join Club Brugge in Belgium, but lasted less than three months, winning just two of 12 matches. His replacement at Bournemouth, Gary O'Neil, has the Cherries in 16th, far from down and out.

Thomas Tuchel - Chelsea (September 7)

Arguably the biggest shock sacking of the season came early on, when Tuchel was shown the door by Chelsea's new owners. Not long over a year on from leading the Blues to Champions League success, Tuchel was out of work. He is now back in a job, having succeeded Julian Nagelsmann at Bayern Munich in March.

Graham Potter - Brighton and Hove Albion to Chelsea (September 8)

Potter will feature again in this list, of course, but he does count as two of the 13 departures on Opta's list, given he left Brighton to fill the Chelsea vacancy. The Seagulls had enjoyed a brilliant start to the season and Potter had earned his shot at a big club. It would not, of course, go according to plan.

Bruno Lage - Wolves (October 2)

A full month had not passed by the time a third coach was given the boot. Lage had a decent first season at Wolves, but their form had tailed off towards the back end of the 2021-22 campaign, going winless in seven games. That poor form carried into this term, and having won just one of their first eight league games, Wolves decided to make a change.

Steven Gerrard - Aston Villa (October 20)

Gerrard made a bright start at Villa in 2021, and had been given a large transfer budget across two windows, but the former Rangers boss was struggling to make matters click, either with his team or the fanbase. Villa made the call to end the project before the World Cup, and moved efficiently to bring in Unai Emery, who has got them well clear of any danger. Since his first game in charge, only Arsenal (13) and Manchester City (10) have more Premier League wins than Villa.

Ralph Hasenhuttl - Southampton (November 7)

Hasenhuttl had provided Southampton with fresh life when he was appointed in 2018, but since reaching a pinnacle of topping the table in November of the 2020-21 season, it had been a constant struggle. Saints managed to scrape 40 points last season but were firmly in the relegation scrap when they decided time was up for the Austrian. His replacement, however, did not fare well.

Frank Lampard - Everton (January 23)

That glut of changes prior to the World Cup break was followed by the halting of Lampard's Everton tenure in late January. Results had been terrible, with Lampard managing just three wins all season - a tally already matched by his successor Sean Dyche. However, the nature of dismissing a manager so late in the transfer window left Everton with little time to reinforce their squad, and they are still firmly in the mire. Losses to Wolves, Brighton, Southampton and West Ham marked the end of Lampard's time at Goodison Park.

 

Jess Marsch - Leeds United (February 6)

After one relegation candidate blinked, so did another. Marsch was ditched by Leeds following a 1-0 defeat to Nottingham Forest, with the Whites - like Everton - once again faced with a scrap for their lives. Marsch, like Lampard on Merseyside, had managed to garner enough spirit and resolve to keep Leeds in the division last season, but the American was not an entirely popular figure among Leeds' fanbase, and whatever system he was trying to implement was clearly not working.

Nathan Jones - Southampton (February 12)

To put it frankly, Jones' time at St Mary's Stadium was downright bizarre. Brought in from Luton Town, Jones clearly had no lack of self-belief, but he lost his first four league games at the helm. Southampton appeared to be clicking into gear under Jones when they beat Crystal Palace in the FA Cup, Manchester City in the EFL Cup and then Everton in the league, yet the Weslhman – who was not shy at reeling off his strengths despite the lack of results – received his marching orders following the EFL Cup semi-final loss to Newcastle United and a 3-0 top-flight defeat to Brentford, with Saints bottom of the pile, where they remain.

Patrick Vieira - Crystal Palace (March 17)

A run of 13 games in all competitions without a win led to Vieira getting the boot midway through March. Palace lost 4-1 to league leaders Arsenal under the interim charge of Paddy McCarthy, and turned to former, supposedly retired, boss Roy Hodgson to try and push them away from danger. Hodgson made a good start, with the Eagles coming from behind to beat Leicester 2-1 on Saturday.

Antonio Conte - Tottenham (March 26)

An unhappy marriage came to an end when Conte left Spurs by mutual consent, just over a week on from lambasting his "selfish" squad, along with the entire club's mentality, following a 3-3 draw at Southampton. Conte had never seemed content at Tottenham, and now Cristian Stellini will oversee the rest of the season. The international break was a turbulent one for Spurs, with director of football Fabio Paratici now on a leave of absence after his ban from Italian football was made a worldwide one by FIFA last week.

Brendan Rodgers - Leicester City (April 2)

Leicester played the April fools on Saturday in their defeat at Selhurst Park, a result that left them in the relegation zone. Rodgers had earned the Foxes' backing with his achievements since taking over in 2019, having won the FA Cup and led Leicester into Europe twice. However, Leicester had won just two league games since the season restarted, and a change felt overdue.

Graham Potter - Chelsea (April 2)

Not long after the dust had settled on Rodgers' departure, Chelsea confirmed the news that Potter was no more. Well, not literally, but the man who had managed so much magic with Brighton could not replicate those tricks at Stamford Bridge. A three-game winning streak in March seemed to suggest a turnaround was in the offing, but a home draw with Everton and Saturday's 2-0 loss to Villa marked the end for Potter, who will perhaps regret leaving Brighton. He leaves Chelsea with the joint-lowest points-per-game total of any of the Blues' Premier League coaches (1.27).

Cristian Stellini insists Tottenham are "not in crisis" despite Antonio Conte's acrimonious exit from the club.

Conte left Spurs by mutual consent last Sunday, a week on from a remarkable outburst after a 3-3 draw with bottom side Southampton in which his side squandered a two-goal lead late on.

The former Chelsea boss labelled his players "selfish" and questioned the club's lack of silverware during Daniel Levy's time as chairman in a tirade that ultimately cost him his job, with assistant Stellini taking charge until the end of the season.

Conte becomes the third Spurs manager to be relieved of their duties since Mauricio Pochettino, who led Spurs to the Champions League final, was sacked in 2019, while the club's wait for a first trophy since 2008 has extended to 15 years.

Managing director Fabio Paratici has also stepped back from his role while the club awaits the outcome of his appeal against a worldwide ban from football following FIFA's decision to extend his initial 30-month ban from just Italian football to a worldwide basis for financial breaches while at Juventus.

Yet Stellini, who is now tasked with overseeing the final 10 games of the season as Spurs bid to achieve Champions League qualification, does not agree the club is in turmoil, despite the Tottenham Supporters' Trust describing it as "one mess after another."

"When you take decisions for the best you are not in crisis," Stellini told reporters.

"If you have some matters, we have to stay compact and we have to stick together to move on and play the matches."

It was an easy decision for Stellini to assume Conte's position until the end of the campaign, with the 48-year-old saying: "I spoke with Antonio. The club and Antonio spoke to each other. They take the decision together and they let me know, I was aware of it.

"They call me and say the decision is taken and if you agree with us, you can do it. I had no problem to say yes."

Christian Stellini and Antonio Conte's relationship has not changed following the latter's dismissal at Tottenham.

Conte and Spurs mutually agreed to part ways during the international break following a concerning dip in results, putting Spurs' top-four position in jeopardy, and a remarkable outburst against the club from Conte after the 3-3 draw with Southampton.

Stellini will now take charge in north London for the remainder of the season, with his first game being Monday's clash against Premier League strugglers Everton.

Spurs have 10 games to secure their position in the Champions League next season, while Stellini's temporary appointment has not eased concerns regarding the club's long-term position.

One thing that is clear for Stellini, however, is that he still has a strong friendship with Conte and he moved to thank the former Chelsea and Inter boss.

"I want to clarify that the decision was taken for the best of the club and for everyone," he told a press conference, "Antonio is good. Everyone took the decision altogether for the best of the club.

"My relationship with Antonio is still the same, we're very close and nothing changed between us. I have to say thank you because I have improved a lot in my career under him and it's because of him.

"I did the best for him before, and I'll do the best for him until the end of the season."

Asked whether he felt this was his next step into a managerial career, Stellini added: "It's the next step to work hard for the next 10 games.

"Nothing has to change in my mind. I'm not here for vanity. I'm here to help this club. I have to be myself. I used myself, my character. We will see what happens during the process.

"We've had not many days together. We had a good day in training and we followed in training what we did in the past."

Spurs head into the weekend fourth in the Premier League standings, two points above Newcastle United and seven above Liverpool, both of whom have two games in hand.

Tottenham interim head coach Cristian Stellini attempted to promote togetherness after Antonio Conte's reign came to an end in explosive fashion.

Conte was dismissed on Sunday after a week of intense speculation suggesting the club's hierarchy were going to dismiss him.

The Italian had blasted his players in an extraordinary rant eight days earlier following Spurs' 3-3 draw with Southampton, a game that saw them throw away a 3-1 lead.

That outburst, coupled with recent poor form and reports neither he nor the club wanted to agree a new contract, ultimately led to Conte's exit.

But his assistant, Stellini, has stayed on to take charge until the end of the season, and his first task is to rebuild morale and trust with the squad and fans.

"We know when you're not winning or [when you] lose games, the fans are unhappy," he told SPURSPLAY ahead of his first game at the helm on Monday away to Everton.

"It's normal and we have to accept this. All the staff, the players, we want to work hard until the end of the season, because this is our club, and we want to bring everyone with us. This is important for the next 10 games.

"I feel very honoured and feel I'm in the right position to do this. I feel that, and I want to do this with all the staff, with Ryan [Mason, assistant head coach], that's very important for me and the club, and it was important when we were in charge when Antonio wasn't here [when Conte had time away due to illness].

"We feel we can do what we did before, we want to improve, and this is a moment to take responsibility and to improve, all together."

Spurs are fourth in the Premier League with 49 points from 28 games, but Newcastle United are only two points behind and have two matches in hand.

Richarlison has hit back at suggestions he played a key role in Tottenham's decision to sack Antonio Conte, denying being the "mutiny leader" behind the Italian's exit.

Spurs parted company with Conte last week, eight days after the former Chelsea boss launched a scathing attack on the club after a 3-3 draw at Southampton.

Conte described Tottenham's players as "selfish" and appeared to criticise chairman Daniel Levy, saying: "Tottenham's story is this – 20 years there is this owner and they never won something. Why?"

That rant came less than a fortnight after Richarlison publicly questioned why his playing time had been limited amid a dire run of form for Spurs.

Following Conte's dismissal, a journalist from Argentinian broadcaster TyC Sports suggested Richarlison had been involved in giving the club an ultimatum regarding the coach's future – a claim the forward vehemently denies.

Responding to the rumour on Twitter on Thursday, Richarlison wrote: "Questioning and criticising me as a player for my performance is part of football and I get it. 

"However, telling lies about me, I don't accept! I've always had a lot of respect for Conte and for all my coaches. 

"He helped me a lot in my coming to Spurs and whenever we had a problem (even if it was public) we solved it based on conversation and professionalism – and this he can confirm.

"I wasn't a mutiny leader against him, it was quite the opposite. I'm sorry I didn't deliver as much as he expected of me and I didn't do enough for him to stay.  

"When he left, I sent him a message thanking him for everything and wishing him the best [because] that's what he deserves!

"On the other hand, the journalist responsible for this awful lie did not even do the least which would be talking to my PR or listening to me. Bad professional and bad character!"

Conte's former assistant Cristian Stellini begins his interim period at the helm with a trip to Everton on Monday, with Tottenham sitting fourth in the Premier League.

Tottenham should not have been surprised by how Antonio Conte's time at the club ended as he "goes into conflict with everyone", says Christian Vieri.

Conte joined Spurs in November 2021 after the sacking of Nuno Espirito Santo and guided the north London club to a top-four Premier League finish at the end of his first season.

Despite sitting fourth again this season, performances under Conte were hugely inconsistent with Spurs falling to disappointing exits in the Champions League and FA Cup in recent weeks. 

Following an explosive press conference in which the Italian labelled his players "selfish", he left the club on Sunday.

However, the breakdown in relations between Conte and the club was something former Juventus, Inter and Italy striker Vieri was expecting. 

"Antonio goes into conflict with everyone, it's his character," he told Corriere della Sera.

"If you take him, you can't expect someone who shuts up and everything is fine with him. He is always on the edge, it's his way of being; you can like it or not, you know who you get.

"Every two years does he fight with everyone? Yes. Does he always leave with problems? Yes. 

"You know he's demanding, serious, and it's hard to have him in your club, he doesn't let you sleep peacefully. 

"They are choices. There are coaches like Conte and Mourinho who hammer at all hours, put pressure and always demand the best. 

"And then there are those who are fine with anything, they stay there. Everyone trains and sees football in their own way, and it doesn't mean that this or that coach is right."

Conte's former assistant Cristian Stellini is set to take charge of Tottenham alongside Ryan Mason until the end of the season. 

Tottenham's managing director Fabio Paratici believes Antonio Conte's exit was "the right decision for everyone" and is confident interim boss Cristian Stellini can oversee a successful end to the season.

Conte and Spurs parted company on Sunday, eight days after the Italian launched a remarkable rant in the wake of his side squandering a two-goal lead in a 3-3 draw at Southampton. 

As well as labelling Tottenham's players "selfish", Conte appeared to criticise the club's hierarchy by adding: "Tottenham's story is this – 20 years and they never won something. Why?"

While Paratici acknowledges Conte – who recently missed several games after undergoing gallbladder surgery – has endured a difficult few months in his personal life, he believes his exit will benefit all parties.

"We know how difficult this season was for him personally," Paratici told the club's website."[Spurs' fitness coach] Gian Piero [Ventrone] died and [Gianluca] Vialli, and then his surgery. 

"The club supported him a lot with it, and everyone is close to each other but then we arrived in this mutual agreement, and I think the decision that we made was the right decision for everyone."

Stellini – who served as Conte's assistant at Juventus and Inter – has taken the reins as Spurs battle for a top-four Premier League finish, and Paratici thinks the 48-year-old is ready to make the step up.

"Cristian managed the team even when Antonio was sick this season and was good," Paratici added. "He has a lot of experience as a second coach and he was even first coach in the past. 

"Then we have Ryan Mason who can help him a lot. He has been a part of this club for a long time, and he knows everything about this club and this group of players. We are really, really confident that these two people can do a very good job."

Several high-profile coaches – including Julian Nagelsmann and Mauricio Pochettino – have been touted as possible long-term replacements for Conte, but Paratici will not discuss the search for a permanent boss while the season is ongoing.

"We have to have everyone focused on the last part of the season," he said. "We do not speak about other coaches or follow the speculation in the media because it is just speculation. 

"We are focused, we are now concentrating on helping Cristian and helping the staff, Ryan, and the players. It is an important moment."

Tottenham sit fourth in the Premier League ahead of the run-in, though they are just two points clear of Newcastle United in fifth, having played two games more than the Magpies.

Son Heung-min feels "responsible" for Antonio Conte's Tottenham exit because of his indifferent form on the pitch.

Conte left Spurs on Sunday following a week of intense speculation suggesting his days were numbered after an underwhelming run of form.

The final straw proved to be the 3-3 draw at Southampton – during which Spurs led 3-1 before a late collapse – and Conte's remarkable post-match tirade, which saw him blast his players as "selfish".

Conte also appeared to aim criticism at the club's hierarchy during his rant but reportedly clarified to bosses a few days later that all comments were targeted at the players.

Nevertheless, his employers seemingly decided the relationship between Conte and the club had reached breaking point, with a divorce by "mutual agreement" announced.

Son, speaking on international duty, could not help but feel partly to blame, with the South Korea international's form suffering a significant drop-off this season. He shared the Premier League's Golden Boot last term with 23 goals but has managed only six in 26 appearances in 2022-23.

"As a player, I'm very sorry to him," Son told reporters after South Korea's 2-1 defeat to Uruguay.

"He is a world-class manager and we had a great journey together, I thank him a lot. I don't know how other players are thinking about him, but I'm sorry to him.

"I should have shown more, but I couldn't. I couldn't help the team and I feel responsible because the coach took responsibility and left the club."

Son added: "He has great skills and experience as a coach, I'm sure he'll have great success in his future career."

Conte's assistant Cristian Stellini has been placed in charge until the end of the season, or until Spurs appoint a new head coach.

Julian Nagelsmann, recently sacked by Bayern Munich, is rumoured to be among the frontrunners, while former Spurs coach Mauricio Pochettino has been linked with a return.

Tottenham winger Dejan Kulusevski was "sad" to see Antonio Conte fired by the club but claimed Spurs players support the decision to remove him from his post.

Conte and Spurs parted company on Sunday after a week of intense speculation suggesting he had already taken charge of his final game.

The Italian made headlines last Saturday when he went on a remarkable rant in his post-match press conference after Spurs threw away a two-goal lead at Southampton to draw 3-3.

He called his players "selfish" and extraordinarily suggested the club's lack of tangible success in recent years was ingrained, saying: "Tottenham's story is this – 20 years and they never won something. Why?"

Conte was reportedly asked by club chiefs to clarify those comments and he was said to have insisted they were aimed at the players rather than hierarchy, though seemingly that was not enough to save his job.

Since Conte's exit was confirmed, media reports have brought to light apparent frustrations with Conte from the squad, though Kulusevski – who was signed during the former Inter boss' tenure – appeared disappointed.

He told Fotballskanalen: "It's always sad when a person you work with and have grown close to has to leave.

"But life goes on and you just have to move on. We have ten games left now and we have to do our best to reach the top four."

Kulusevski added: "He has been very important [to me]. I have learned a lot from him and I will always remember him, but now we have his assistant [Cristian Stellini], who I know very well.

"Then we'll see who comes in next season, but I enjoy the city and the club very much."

Nevertheless, Sweden international Kulusevski clarified that, while he seemed somewhat disheartened by the change, collectively the Spurs squad does not have an issue with the action taken by decision makers.

"It's not me who decides. Whoever is the coach, we players will always accept and play for him and for everyone else," he said.

"Now the club made this decision because they think it is the best, and we players stand behind that."

Spurs are back in Premier League action on Monday when they go to Everton – at that point, Newcastle United, who have two games in hand, could have replaced them in fourth.

Antonio Conte thanked Tottenham fans for their "unforgettable" support as he broke his silence following his exit from the club.

Conte left Spurs by mutual consent on Sunday, a week on from a remarkable outburst after a 3-3 draw with bottom side Southampton in which his side squandered a two-goal lead late on.

The Italian labelled his players "selfish" and questioned the club's lack of silverware during Daniel Levy's time as chairman.

That tirade ultimately cost him his job, with assistant Cristian Stellini taking charge until the end of the season as Spurs bid to finish in the Premier League top four for a second straight campaign.

Conte posted on Instagram on Monday, thanking Spurs and their fans while wishing them luck for the future.

"Football is passion," Conte said. "I would like to deeply thank everyone at Spurs who appreciated and shared my passion and my intense way of living football as a coach.

"A special thought to the fans who always showed me support and appreciation, it's been unforgettable to hear them singing my name.

"Our journey together has ended, I wish you all the best for the future."

Spurs' first game in the post-Conte era will be a trip to Goodison Park to face Everton on April 3, as they look to cling onto the fourth spot that they currently occupy to achieve Champions League qualification for next season.

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