Like a son that had left home to carve out an identity for himself, in the summer of 2011 Antonio Conte returned to his beloved Old Lady.In times of despair its always your nearest and dearest that guide you through troubled waters. With his arrival there was a sense of optimism and hope in the minds of the Juventus faithful that a change of times beckoned.
Two consecutive seventh place finishes and five managers later it was quite evident, this was a club that from its upper echelon was engulfed in self pity. An institution that was still trying to come to terms with the agony of Calicopoli. Deprived of its dignity and honor, in a matter of five years a once proud and majestic club, had been turned into the laughing stock of Italian football. The glory days a distant past, a revolution was needed.
As a player, for thirteen years Conte gave his all and more for the club, wearing the famous black and white with pride.A loyal servant and thorough professional he was the embodiment of the Juventus spirit. A spirit that had all but disappeared in the recent past.A natural leader it wasn’t long until he was handed the captain’s arm band.An honor he more than did justice to.Under the guidance of Marcello Lippi Conte became one of the most decorated and influencial players in the clubs history.Finally in the summer 2004 knowing full well that his time had come he decided to hang up us boots and start the second phase of his footballing life as a manager.
With this second coming, he had bestowed on to him the unenviable task of resurrecting a team that had been thrown into the abyss.He went about this arduous mission with the same passion and fire that had endeared him to the Juventus faithful.
Known to be obsessed with the tactical aspects of the game he went against the most historic tradition of Italian football.Catenaccio was thrown out the window and a more adventurous approach was implemented. Enter the 3-5-2. With an emphasis on the pressing game and maintaining possession Conte was able to counter act anything that the opposition threw at his team.With three central defenders at the back and the wing backs playing in a more advanced role Juventus were able to suffocate their opponents into submission.The success of this plan was such that other teams across the continent would later end up adopting a similar approach.
A motivator in the truest sense his biggest challenge was to instill a sense of pride in his players.Pride in the black and white and what it stood for. They had to understand and believe what it ment to be a part of this club.Never one to accept mediocrity he demands a lot from his players making sure that they always put the team above all else.In difficult times his inspirational speeches served as spark that took the team across the line.
Conte once spoke at the training ground in Turin to his players: “The reality is what happens on the field, the sweat, the sacrifice, that’s what has led us through this championship and we haven’t yet achieved anything!”
Armed with these qualities he guided Juventus to the league title unbeaten.Their first in nine years.
The start of the 2012-13 season brought champions league football for the first time in years.Paired with the reigning European champions Chelsea, Shakhtar Donetsk and Nordsjaelland,their European adventure began in ignominy drawing the first 3 games. In danger of bowing out in the first round,a Conte inspired Juventus was able to turn things around and win the next three games on the bounce, progressing to the second round as group winners and in the process knocking out the reigning champions.
Only time will tell if Conte can build a dynasty at Juventus similar to that of Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United or Arsene Wenger at Arsenal.But one thing is for certain he has re established the lost pride of the Old Lady.