Italy's Conte likely to be very hard act to follow

PARIS: Antonio Conte far exceeded expectations with a limited Italy squad at Euro 2016 and the coach, who is heading for pastures new at English club Chelsea, is likely to prove a tough act for replacement Giampiero Ventura to follow.

Conte managed to unite the initially sceptical Italian public around his team who knocked out title-holders Spain before taking world champions Germany to a penalty shootout which they lost 6-5 in Saturday's quarter-final.

The fiery coach used a combination of tactical nous and his renowned motivational powers to get the most from a team which was widely regarded, in terms of pure footballing talent, as the weakest to have represented Italy in many years.

Conte and predecessor Cesare Prandelli complained that the national team is only remembered once every two years, when major tournaments come around, and Conte could not resist a parting shot.

"I have never felt that I had any support, I have only ever had the president on my side," he said. "I always felt that I had to fight the wars on my own.

"I hope that what we did can be built upon and that in future we can give more space to the national team. I can't deny that there have been moments where I have wanted the chance to continue but I was faced with certain events that I could not ignore."