Belfast Telegraph

Antonio Conte determined to keep pushing forward after successful first season

Antonio Conte wants to build on a remarkable first season at Chelsea which could yet end with the double.

The Blues will lift the Premier League trophy after Sunday's match with Sunderland, when Conte's men will seek a record 30th win of the season.

And the FA Cup could follow with victory over Arsenal at Wembley on May 27.

There has been speculation over Conte's future, with Inter Milan making overtures, but his insatiable appetite to win suggests this is just the beginning of his time at Chelsea.

"I think that we started to light the fire," Conte said.

"If you want to have a good season, you must have always this fire in your soul, in your heart, in your head. It's very important."

Conte is constantly looking at the next objective, rather than reflecting on past glories - and says that is a trait necessary to win.

"We must have a winning mentality," he said.

"If you have the winning mentality, you want to continue to win every season.

"It's not easy because, above all in England, there are many, many teams who want to do the same things.

"But we have to continue to work very hard, maybe stronger than this season, to try to repeat a good season.

"But when you have the winning mentality and you want to win every game.

"If there is someone that is happy to see his past, then he's not a winner. He's a loser.

"The past is beautiful if you won in your past. You can see your past. But, in the present and the future, it's not important if you are a winner.

"If you are a loser then you always stay looking behind you and you won't win."

Chelsea won the 2014-15 title under Jose Mourinho, but floundered to a 10th-placed finish last term as Leicester triumphed.

The Blues emerged from a pack of six main contenders as champions this term, rejuvenated under Conte, Mourinho's successor.

The former Juventus and Italy boss is under no illusions that winning next season's Premier League will be as big a challenge, if not more so, than this term.

Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham, Liverpool and Arsenal will all be eager to dethrone the Blues.

Conte added: "We had a path, a very difficult path, this season so it's important to enjoy the win.

"(But) I want people who stay, every day, concentrated and to prepare for a new win.

"Next season will be very tough for us so, for this reason, we must be ready to be stronger than this season to try to repeat and have another good season."

One player who is a serial winner, but who will definitely not be a part of the title defence, is captain John Terry.

Conte on Friday declined to reveal whether Terry will make his anticipated final appearance at Stamford Bridge against Sunderland from the start.

Terry will lift the 15th major trophy of his career afterwards - his fifth Premier League title - and will hope to conclude his Chelsea career with a 16th at Wembley.

The 36-year-old defender, who will leave Chelsea after 22 years this summer, started in the league for the first time since September in Monday's 4-3 win over Watford.

He scored his 67th Chelsea goal on what was his 716th appearance.


From Belfast Telegraph