16 July 2014 01:53
Juventus captain Gianluigi Buffon said Antonio Conte’s professionalism was on display at the Turin club until his last match in charge.
Conte announced he would depart Juventus Stadium via mutual consent on Tuesday, ending a three-year bonanza that delivered three Serie A titles and two Supercoppa trophies.
Buffon, who has been in goal for Juve since 2001, said Conte’s will to succeed was on show even after they had secured a hat-trick of Scudettos.
“Did we see him lose his passion during the last season? To be honest, he retained that intensity and desire to win all the way to the end, including four games after we had already won the Scudetto,” Italy international Buffon said.
“That shows you the kind of man and professional Antonio Conte is.”
Buffon refuted suggestions Conte left Juve due to a conflict with the board, as has been rumoured, claiming the 44-year-old would have made a balanced decision.
“In May we had read about a few divergences of opinion but nothing major and that tends to be resolved for the common good,” Buffon said.
“Listening to the coach’s words, I think the reasons were within himself and nothing to do with the club.
“I haven’t spoken to him, as his phone is switched off, but I sent him a message.
“I think if the coach did well or not – to leave, he will have to tell us that based on how he feels in a little while.”
Buffon said life will go on beyond Conte, given the strong foundation the Lecce-born man had created at the club in the aftermath of the Calciopoli scandal that rocked Juve in 2006.
“Juve have grown as a team and a club with great directorial staff. For us players that is a strong guarantee to build on,” Buffon, 36, said.
“Of course we have lost a great figure, the man who most encapsulated the Juventus spirit, but we also have players and directors of the top level. It’ll be tough but we have what it takes to do well.”
On a potential replacement, Buffon said he had no hints on who would take over the first-team role, jokingly ruling out a fictional character from Italian movie L’allenatore nel Pallone (Trainer on the Beach).
“If you look at the careers of (Massimiliano) Allegri, (Roberto) Mancini or others linked to the job, they are successful careers with victories at the top level,” he said.
“I don’t know who will arrive but I can say Juventus won’t hire Oronzo Cana.”