Chelsea Football Club, Monday, announced the appointment of Antonio Conte as First Team Head Coach.
Conte, who is currently the manager of the Italy national side, has signed a three-year contract. He will begin work in London following his country’s participation in this summer’s Euro 2016 tournament.
The 46-year-old said: “I am very excited about the prospect of working at Chelsea Football Club. I am proud to be the coach of the national team of my country and only a role as attractive as manager of Chelsea could follow that.
“I am looking forward to meeting everyone at the club and the day-to-day challenge of competing in the Premier League.
“Chelsea and English football are watched wherever you go, the fans are passionate and my ambition is to have more success to follow the victories I enjoyed in Italy.
“I am happy we have made the announcement now so everything is clear and we can end the speculation. I will continue to focus on my job with the Italian national team and will reserve speaking about Chelsea again until after the Euros.”
Conte will be the fifth Italian to manage Chelsea, following on from Gianluca Vialli, Claudio Ranieri, Carlo Ancelotti and Roberto Di Matteo. In common with the first three of those names, he was formerly at Juventus, in his case as both a player and a manager.
Having played more than 400 games for the Italian giants, Conte’s three years in charge of the team between 2011 and 2014 yielded three straight Serie A titles – Juventus’s first league championships in eight years and their first three-in-a-row since the early 1930s. They had finished seventh the two seasons prior to Conte.
The Bianconeri also won two Italian Super Cups with him in charge. Andrea Pirlo, Paul Pogba, Carlos Tevez and Arturo Vidal were among his signings during a spell so productive he was named Serie A Coach of the Year in all three seasons there.
Chelsea Director Marina Granovskaia said: “We are very pleased to have recruited one of the most highly regarded managers in world football and we are equally pleased to do so before the end of the current season. This aids our future planning.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Guus Hiddink, who has done a great job since he joined us in December.”
Chelsea Chairman Bruce Buck added: “Antonio Conte has a record of consistent success in his career as a manager and as a player. We look forward to welcoming him to Stamford Bridge and are confident he will find all he needs to maintain that high standard of achievement.”
Conte began his managerial career in the Italian lower divisions at Arezzo and Bari, winning promotion to the top flight with the latter, and was briefly employed by Atalanta before he further enhanced his reputation by guiding Siena into Serie A.
That was the cue for Juventus to come calling for their former player, as did the Italy national team three years later when they handed him control of the Azzurri in 2014. He had played 20 times for his country including a semi-final appearance in the 1994 World Cup and a quarter-final of Euro 2000.
Under Conte’s management, Italy qualified for this summer’s Euro 2016 finals undefeated in their 10 games. They will play Belgium, Republic of Ireland and Sweden in the group stage in France.
Conte’s coaching has been characterised by tactical flexibility and he achieved the remarkable feat of an unbeaten league season at Juventus, becoming only the third Serie A team to do so. Impressively, that was in his first season in charge (2011/12) and in 2013/14 the ‘Old Lady’ recorded an all-time Serie A record of 102 points.
In the 2012/13 campaign, Conte’s side played Chelsea in the Champions League group stage, drawing 2-2 at Stamford Bridge and winning 3-0 in Turin. They went on to the quarter-finals where they lost to eventual winners Bayern Munich.
In his three years as manager, Juventus lost only two home league games, contributing greatly to their new stadium being considered such a success.
As a player, Conte was a versatile, energetic box-to-box midfielder. He was a Champions League winner as part of the side Vialli captained to a final win over Ajax in 1996. He played in two other finals of that competition and in a convincing win over Borussia Dortmund in the 1993 UEFA Cup final.
He was also a five-time Serie A winner in his 13 seasons as an integral member of the Juve squad. He played for just two clubs having begun his career with his home-town team Lecce in southern Italy.