Chelsea manager Antonio Conte has been the best manager in the Premier League this season.
The fact that Chelsea sit 10 points clear at the top of the table proves that.
But how much do you know about the fiery Italian? Here are some things that may surprise you about the former Juventus boss:
1 He clashed with Rafa Benitez
This will be music to Chelsea fans’ ears. Benitez is very possibly the least popular manager in the club’s history, and while the Spaniard was in charge of Napoli and Conte was bossing Serie A with Juventus, the pair had a bit of a fallout. When Benitez labelled Juventus “big spenders,” Conte responded with some cold, hard facts.
“We have invested €25 million (about £19.7 million) in our team, they have spent €100 million (about £79 million). People need to get their facts right and not spread misleading messages. I hope Benítez will check his calculations.” Ouch.
2 His management career started terribly
In 2006, Conte started his first job in management with Serie B side Arezzo. But after a woeful string of results he was sacked after a few months in his role. He did make good in his second job. After saving Bari from relegation in Serie B, he earned them promotion the following season, topping the table in 2009.
3 He’s fallen out with fans
Don’t mess with Antonio Conte, even if you are an Atalanta ultra. During his time at the northern Italian side he regularly clashed with his own supporters. One game against Napoli ended with a police intervention when supporters repeatedly confronted Conte. He handed in his resignation the following day.
4 He’s managed seven teams
Considering he hasn’t been in the management game for that long, you may be shocked to hear Conte has taken charge of seven teams. He’s managed Arezzo, Bari, Atalanta, Siena, Juventus, Italy and now Chelsea. His three seasons at Juventus has been his longest spell in one place.
5 When Conte tells you to do something, you do it
Andrea Pirlo, who played under Conte for Juventus and Italy, speaks of Conte as a forceful presence in the dressing room. “When Conte speaks, his words assault you,” the playmaker wrote in his book I Think Before I Play. “They crash through the doors of your mind, often quite violently and settle deep within you.”
6 He’s been criticised for his international selections
Conte called up Éder and Franco Vázquez, born in Brazil and Argentina respectively, for Italy’s Euro 2016 qualifiers and Roberto Mancini wasn’t all that happy with it. Mancini claims only Italy-born players should be eligible to play for the country, but Conte put him in his place, citing that if Argentina-born Mauro Camoranesi could play for Italy, so could others who weren’t born there.
7 He was a winner as a player
Conte’s managerial achievements are nothing compared to what he accomplished as a player. He won everything during his 13 years in Juve’s midfield, including five Serie A crowns and the Champions League in 1996.
8 He’s had three hair transplants
Finally on to that majestic barnet of his. Conte’s greatest comeback has to be his head of hair. At the tail-end of his playing days, he was pretty much bald, but after a couple of botched Italian jobs, a final hair transplant in Canada restored his flowing locks.