Antonio Conte terminated his contract with Serie A champion Juventus by mutual consent Tuesday in a shock move just as the Turin club begins preparations for next season.
“Winning is difficult. It comes with a lot of effort, especially in a club like Juventus where there is the obligation of victory,” Conte said in a video message posted on Juve’s website. “But I showed I’m a winner.”
The 44-year-old Conte led Juventus to three consecutive Serie A titles. There had been speculation toward the end of last season that Conte wanted to leave Juventus but then he had appeared to change his mind. He had one year remaining on his contract.
While the job of Italy national team coach is open after Cesare Prandelli resigned following the Azzurri’s first-round exit from the World Cup, Conte wouldn’t give any clues to his next move.
“Right now I’m thinking about the present and the decision taken,” he said. “An enormous thank you goes to the lads for what they showed me. ... We did something historic and nobody can take that away from us.”
Juventus captain Gianluigi Buffon called it “a serious loss” and had no explanation for the coach’s move but suggested the departure will not greatly affect the squad’s performance.
“We’ve lost a great coach but great players and a smart club remain in place,” Buffon said. “Now we need to stay together even more and show what we’re worth, disregarding Conte.”
A letter from Juventus president Andrea Agnelli to Conte was also published.
“Dear Antonio, you were a great leader for our lads and today’s news saddens me enormously,” Agnelli wrote. “I’m thinking about the three years spent together, three years that led us to create history for this club: three consecutive Serie A titles, two Italian Super Cups, but above all an exponential growth curve.
“But faced with personal feelings and reasons, even a president needs to take a step back,” Agnelli added.
Possible replacements could include former Inter Milan and Manchester City coach Roberto Mancini or ex-AC Milan manager Massimiliano Allegri – who are also both being mentioned for the Italy job.
A former standout midfielder for Juventus, Conte was named Juventus coach in May, 2011. The title after his first season in charge was Juve’s first since before the 2006 match-fixing scandal.
Scandal touched Conte in his second season in charge, when he was banned for four months for failing to report a fixing scandal relating to his time as Siena manager in 2010-11. He denied any wrongdoing.
Juventus finished last season with a record 102 points – the first Italian club to break the 100-point barrier.