Belfast Telegraph

Conte thanks players, staff and fans in gracious statement after Chelsea exit

Italian led Blues to FA Cup glory last term.

Antonio Conte was magnanimous about his time at Chelsea and made no reference to any ill-feeling in a statement issued by the League Managers’ Association following his sacking.

The 48-year-old Italian was axed last Friday, 55 days after lifting the FA Cup in his final match in charge, with Maurizio Sarri appointed his successor 24 hours later.

“I would like to thank all of my friends at Chelsea Football Club for their hard work and support over the past two seasons which enabled us to win the Premier League and FA Cup together,” Conte said in the LMA statement.

Conte won the 2016-17 Premier League title with Chelsea in his first season as head coach and signed an improved contract, but not an extension to the deal which was due to expire in June 2019.

The former Juventus and Italy boss often hinted at grievances with the London club’s hierarchy, particularly over transfer policy, and was discarded with a year remaining on his contract and despite overseeing the start of pre-season training for the 2018-19 campaign.

Sarri’s first game at the helm is scheduled to be the July 23 friendly against Perth Glory in Western Australia.

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Antonio Conte won the Premier League title in his first season as Chelsea head coach (Mike Egerton/PA)

Conte thanked his players, staff and the Blues fans, adding: “It was fantastic for me to be able to share my emotions, passion and enthusiasm throughout two unforgettable seasons with these amazing Chelsea supporters, who will always stay in my heart.

“I hope Chelsea will continue to be successful and I wish everyone well for next season.

“I have made many memories during my time with Chelsea, which I will take with me into my next challenge.”

Chelsea’s usual policy is to continue to pay a sacked manager’s salary until the expiry of the contract or until he finds a new job.

Conte is reportedly prepared to wait for a high-calibre position, with no obvious attractive vacancy at present.

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Antonio Conte, centre, won the FA Cup in his final match as Chelsea boss (Nick Potts/PA Images)

LMA chief executive Richard Bevan anticipates Conte will be sought after following his stint at Stamford Bridge.

“Antonio made an immediate impact when he arrived in the Premier League two years ago,” Bevan said.

“His energy and enthusiasm for football has been infectious and it has been a privilege to have one of the best coaches in the world working in the Premier League to raise the standard of the league and his players at Chelsea.

“His record as a manager speaks for itself, with a record-breaking Premier League season and FA Cup title to look back on with pride. Antonio is hugely respected by his peers within the English game, who voted him as LMA manager of the year in 2017.

“We have no doubt that Antonio will go on to achieve many more successes in his career.”

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