I didn't sleep for six days – Conte motivated by last-gasp title loss

By Jamie Smith 24 February 2017 245
I didn't sleep for six days – Conte motivated by last-gasp title loss

Antonio Conte has revealed the pain of losing a title on the last day of the season motivates his desire for Premier League leaders Chelsea to continue to push hard for points.

Chelsea's eight-point lead from Manchester City has led to many onlookers proclaiming Conte's men the champions-elect, with Saturday's home game against Swansea City offering an opportunity to stretch their advantage further.

But despite Chelsea winning 19 of their 25 league games this season, Conte knows the title will not be secured until glory is mathematically confirmed after mixed experiences earlier in his career, when he played for Juventus.

"In my experience as a footballer I have had two experiences [of a collapse]," Conte told reporters. "One good experience, another bad experience against Lazio.

"Lazio in the last six or seven games they recovered seven points, eight points and we lost the title in the last game against Perugia. I was captain of the team. I remember after this game I must go to the European Championship with the national team. 

"I didn't sleep for six days because it was a shock for me to lose the title. In another situation I won the title to recover against Inter from eight points behind. We won the last game against Udinese and Inter lost the game against Lazio."

With 13 league games to play and no European distractions for Chelsea, Conte is targeting the 10 wins and two draws that would ensure his side cannot be caught by any of the chasing pack.

"There is a long time before we can say we have won the title," Conte said. "We must be focused, we must go step by step. Now I'm sure to win the title we must get 32 points. 

"There is a long time left. 13 games is an enormous space of time. I am sure if we take 32 points we win the title. Otherwise anything can happen."

Conte reflected on the sacking of compatriot Claudio Ranieri by Leicester City, the club dismissing the Italian despite last season's incredible Premier League title triumph.

"In Italy we are used to being sacked and we live with this situation," he said. "It is not easy, but to know this you are stronger because you try with all your strength to put in 120 per cent. Because you know your life could be very short.

"Now I see in England these situations are increasing, and also in the Championship I see a lot of managers are sacked. This is our job, and the risk of our job. We know this and we must work very hard to have good results, to try to keep our job. For sure, our job is a job with great risk."

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Jamie Smith