WEST BROMWICH — Waking into the press conference room at the Hawthorns in a tracksuit after his suit was soaked with champagne, beer and more in the celebrations in the locker room and on the pitch, Antonio Conte couldn’t help but smile.
Conte, 47, had just delivered the Premier League title in his first season as a manager in England and the Italian had done it in style with two games remaining.
[ MORE: Full “Chelsea Champions” reaction, here ]
Speaking to reporters after the game, Conte revealed that he was punched in his face during the celebrations and his suit was “a disaster” but none of that mattered.
He is living in a dream.
“I’m living a very important moment,” Conte admitted. “I am enjoying this moment a lot. When you put a lot of patience, enthusiasm in your work, a lot of hours. A lot of time you don’t sleep for your work. When this moment arrives, it is right to enjoy and celebrate with your players, your fans and my staff, with the club. It is great. This is a dream that is coming true.”
[ VIDEO: Chelsea win Premier League ]
That dream started off after a nightmare season for Chelsea in 2015-16 as the reigning Premier League champs finished in 10th place and Conte admitted he had “a lot of problems” to sort out when he arrived last summer.
Coupled with giants from across the Premier League spending big to try and win the title or at the very least finish in the top four, the Italian admitted it “wasn’t easy” to content for the title and thanked his players for “trusting” in his philosophy throughout.
His passion on the sidelines and with his players have rallied fans to his cause and he has become a cult hero at Chelsea in incredible fashion. It feels like the dawn of a new era of dominance for the west London club under his leadership.
“I am very happy for the club because the club trust me,” Conte said. “To repay the club is very important for me.”
When asked by ProSoccerTalk, he also spoke about the key moment which turned Chelsea’s season around: the 3-0 defeat at Arsenal in September which led to the incredibly important switch to a 3-4-3 formation.
“Yeah, honestly. Yes. Yes. Yes,” Conte said. “Because after two bad defeats, not simple defeats, bad, bad defeats, Liverpool and Arsenal. Against Arsenal this game was frustrating for me because during the game I didn’t see nothing of my work, of my idea of football. In that moment it was frustrating for me. I found the strength to change, to take the responsibility to change the system and find a new suit for these players. I think it was the key moment for us. Every single player found in this system the best for them.”
And that simple tweak is what ultimately won Chelsea, and Conte, the title.