‘We had to eat dung for months’ – 13 of Antonio Conte’s weirdest quotes

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Antonio Conte is closing in on the Serie A title with Inter Milan. If he can get them over the line, it will be a fifth domestic league title of Conte’s coaching career, making him one of the most successful managers of the modern era.

While building up a formidable reputation as a winner, though, Conte has also managed to cultivate an eccentric persona through some of the dramatic, imaginative or just downright odd things that come out of his mouth.

After Inter beat Hellas Verona 1-0 in April 2021, he was at it again, saying that “everyone must die” before he’d let Achraf Hakimi take a penalty.

Here, we’ve collected 13 of Conte’s boldest, funniest and most bizarre quotes.

On Achraf Hakimi

After Inter Milan beat Hellas Verona 1-0 in April 2021, Conte had a few words of encouragement for the love of his life Achraf Hakimi on Sky Italia: “He has great room for improvement. On free-kicks, he has great skills.

“But on penalties… if we get to the end of some competition… everyone must die before giving one to him. He really sucks, worse than me when I was playing.”

On eating excrement

Conte went on a bit of a rant on Sky Italia towards the end of his first season at Inter, singling out the club owners for criticism: “It has been a tough year on a personal level, very tough.

“I don’t think the players saw their work recognised, I don’t think I saw my work recognised and we all received very little protection from the club.

“We have to grow and improve in all areas, including off the field, and a big club should protect its players more. We’ll discuss it all at the end of the season, I have to meet the president [Steven Zhang] and he’s in China right now.

“It was very, very intense this year, difficult, and the lads did well to isolate ourselves and create unity within us, despite the difficulties. We had to eat dung for months and got zero protection. My problem is that I have a vision, I see the path we have to take and I know what we need to do.”

On football-friendly sex

“Competition for me is battle,” Conte told L’Equipe. “It is your death, my life. I am very focused on the fact that in the end there should only be one left standing and I do everything to make it my team.

“This is my way of being and it will lead me to interrupt my career very early because I live my work too much. And I often ask if it is right to spend so much time without my family.

“During the season, relationships must not last too long, we must do as little effort as possible. So stay under the partner.”

On sewing for his team

“When I was in Italy, I liked to say, no, that the manager, the coach, is like a tailor,” Conte told a press conference when he took over at Chelsea. “A tailor who must build a dress, the best dress for the team.”

On other people sewing for him

“I try to dress well,” Conte told GQ. “Not just now at Chelsea, but all my career, at my clubs and the national team in Italy, I like to wear a nice suit on the touchline.”

On players’ happiness

“You [the media] speak about being happy, but I speak about wanting to win and work very hard. My target is to put a winning mentality into the minds of the players. The winning mentality doesn’t exist to keep players happy, because it’s very difficult to keep 20 players happy.

“I want players who are ready to fight and put themselves in the team to try to win together. If you are happy or unhappy, I don’t care.”

On losing

“I consider defeat to be a state of virtual death.”

On how to avoid losing

“We’re being praised and that gives me the creeps, because I fear it will make some of you relax,” he said in a pre-match team-talk to his Juventus players in 2012 that was caught on camera.

“You want to win the title? You’ll have to spit blood right to the very end of the final match of the season.”

On talking grass

Conte’s Chelsea had just lost 3-0 to an Mesut Ozil-inspired Arsenal in September 2016 when he told the press: “I prefer to be a great team not only on paper but also on the pitch. The pitch is the truth. The pitch speaks.”

On spending money

April 2017, Chelsea were top of the league and cruising to the title, despite having spent less than Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United and Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City the previous summer.

He wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to rub it in: “I think this season it’s very important to understand that it’s not always who spends more money who wins.

“Otherwise, in this league this season, the name of the team [who would win the title] wasn’t Chelsea or Tottenham or Arsenal or Liverpool. You understand?

“This season isn’t the only season the Manchester clubs have spent a lot of money.” 

On ‘the Mourinho season’

A fairly unhealthy rivalry had developed between Conte and Mourinho by the time the 2017-18 season got underway. Having won the league, Conte couldn’t resist another dig. “Two years ago Chelsea finished 10th [after winning the league the previous season].

“That cannot happen again. We know the difficulty and for sure we want to avoid the Mourinho season with Chelsea.”

Conte on ‘little man’ Mourinho

In 2018, after the ever-charming Mourinho mentioned the match-fixing allegations that surrounded Conte in 2012, Conte replied by calling Mourinho a “little man”.

Conte on his reputation

Having just beaten Mournho’s United in the FA Cup final to salvage something from a tough second season at Chelsea, Conte was typically modest: “My past speaks very clear as a player and as a manager. You can say what you want, but I’m a serial winner.”

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