Antonio Conte has revealed that the Serie A title heartbreak he suffered as a Juventus player reinforces his belief that Chelsea still have a lot of work to do to be crowned Premier League champions this season.
Juventus, captained by Conte, were six points clear of second-placed Lazio in the 1999-00 season with seven matches remaining but suffered one of the great collapses of modern Italian football history, losing away to Perugia on the final day to hand the title to the Roman club.
Chelsea enjoy an eight-point lead at the top of the Premier League with 13 games to go and have already been declared likely champions by rival managers Pep Guardiola, Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger, but Conte says the traumatic memory of that Juventus season has taught him to take nothing for granted.
“Yes I remember, and a lot of times I remind you of these situations,” Conte said when asked about the 1999-00 season. “In my time as a footballer I had two experiences, one good and another bad against Lazio.
“Lazio [in 1999-00] recovered seven points, eight points in the last six or seven games and we lost the title in the last game against Perugia. I was captain of the team and remember very well.
“After this game I had to go to the Euros with the national team and I didn’t sleep for six days because it was a shock for me to lose the title.
“In another situation [in 2001-02] I won the title by recovering eight points on Inter. We won against Udinese [on the last day] and Inter lost against Lazio.
“I have experienced this, which is why I continue to repeat that there are 13 games and there are 39 points [to play for]. There is a long time to tell if we can win the title. We must be focused and go step by step and now I’m sure that to win the title we must do 32 points.”
Chelsea have shown no sign of title nerves or complacency so far, and Conte insists he sees no need to share his own experiences with the squad just yet.
“No it’s not important now and it is not the right moment because there is a long time [still to go] — 13 games is an enormous space of time and you can take 39 points,” he added. “I am sure that if we take 32 points we will win the title. Otherwise anything can happen.”
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