One thing is certain without a shadow of a doubt: Antonio Conte‘s players
love love playing for him.
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Following Chelsea’s 1-0 victory away to West Bromwich Albion on Friday, a result which clinched the 2016-17 Premier League title for the Blues, Conte’s players were full of praise for the impact he’s had in his first season at Stamford Bridge.
365 days ago, two months before Conte had arrived, Chelsea sat ninth in the PL table; they would slip one more spot and finish the season in 10th. While they’re all thrilled to have won the PL title already this term, there’s still an FA Cup double to be won.
David Luiz‘s first spell at Chelsea was full of highs and lows, but the Brazilian left the club in the summer of 2014 amid lots of the latter and returned last summer with fans expecting more of the same. What they hadn’t accounted for, however, was the Conte effect — quotes from the BBC:
“I am happy. Very happy. It is my first Premier League title. When I decided to come back here I dreamed to win the Premier League. I am very happy because my dream came true.
“Tonight was a great game but we did it. We work hard every day to have these moments.”
“[Conte] likes to work, works with passion every day. I am happy for him. He deserves it because he is working hard every day.”
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Perhaps no player has
improved more noticeably returned to his own previously great heights than Eden Hazard, who chipped in with 15 goals and 5 assists in the PL this season (just 4 and 3 in 2015-16) — quotes from the BBC:
“It’s amazing to celebrate with the fans. The game was so difficult. We are very happy.
“We talked a lot about the manager already, he is fantastic and we work a lot in training. Full credit to him and the players. We lost to Arsenal and then we went on an unbelievable run.
“That’s when we said that we can win the league.”
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Gary Cahill replaced John Terry as the club’s full-time captain this season as Terry was quickly phased out of the first-team squad early in the campaign. The two England center backs said after the game that they’d share the honor of being first to lift the trophy — quotes from the BBC:
“It feels amazing. It is a special moment. I thought we deserved it over the season. We worked very hard and have been the better team. It is fantastic to wrap it up with a couple of games to go, it is very difficult in this league.
“We didn’t want this to drag on. We had the opportunity today to win the league and it was a pinch yourself moment in the tunnel before we went out.
“We played maybe a bit nervy because we knew what was at stake but showed experience in the end and wore them down.
“We felt confident in the dressing room all season. There is a danger you start believing you are champions when you are not.
“The league is in the bag, it is an amazing achievement for everyone involved. These are moments you need to cherish. I can’t wait to get my hands on that trophy.”