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Italian coach Conte takes on Chelsea job

Soccer

Italian Antonio Conte was handed the responsibility of reviving Chelsea’s fortunes and bringing the Premier League title back to Stamford Bridge when he was named as their new head coach last night, Australian time.

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Conte, 46, the head coach of Italy, will move to London on a three-year contract after the June 10 – July 10 European Championship in France.

Conte has long been touted as Chelsea’s first choice to succeed Jose Mourinho as their next permanent manager following the departure of the Portuguese in December after Chelsea made their worst start to a top flight campaign for more than 30 years.

Dutchman Guus Hiddink has been in charge since December 19 but his second stint as interim coach was never going to last longer than the end of this season.

“I am very excited about the prospect of working at Chelsea Football Club. I am proud to be the coach of the national team of my country and only a role as attractive as manager of Chelsea could follow that,” Conte said in a statement on Chelsea’s website (www.chelseafc.com).

“I am happy we have made the announcement now so everything is clear and we can end the speculation. I will continue to focus on my job with the Italian national team and will reserve speaking about Chelsea again until after the Euros.”

Chelsea’s fortunes have stabilised under Hiddink who took over with the 2014-2015 champions mired in 16th place having won only four of their opening 16 league matches.

Saturday’s 4-0 win at Aston Villa was their 15th unbeaten league match since Mourinho left, but they are still only in 10th place in the table with no chance of retaining their title or winning a trophy this season.

Their 13-year unbroken run in the Champions League will also end, and it is very unlikely they will be in the Europa League next season either.

Conte will be the fifth Italian to manage Chelsea, following previous incumbents Gianluca Vialli, Claudio Ranieri, Carlo Ancelotti and Roberto Di Matteo.

He played more than 400 games for Juventus and went on to manage the club to three successive Serie A titles from 2012 to 2014.

-Reuters

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