Antonio Conte has opened up on his relationship with John Terry and said that it was a pleasure to controversially substitute the former captain in the 26th minute of his final game at Stamford Bridge.
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Although the head coach, who is now in charge of Internazionale, was viewed as phasing Terry out of the team during the club’s most recent title-winning campaign in 2016-17, he said it was a privilege to manage such a consummate professional.
In an interview with Sky Sports to be broadcast later this morning, Conte said: “It was a great privilege for me to be the coach of a Chelsea legend like John Terry.
“He was very important in the training ground, during the sessions to keep the concentration standards high.”
Terry made nine league appearances, including six starts, with his final game coming in the 5-1 win over Sunderland on the final day. However, his planned substitution was deemed controversial with some critics questioning the integrity of a staged act.
“He decided he wanted this because 26 was his squad number and for me it was a pleasure to give him this opportunity,” Conte added.
Conte also pinpointed the 4-0 home win over Manchester United in October as a key moment in their eventual romp to the title. He also felt that result, a humiliation for the returning Jose Mourinho, helped him bond with the Blues supporters.
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“This game gave us confidence and belief in ourselves and we created a fantastic relationship with our fans.”