Antonio Conte: I want to be a ‘big brother’ to Tottenham stars who can learn from my lifestyle mistakes

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Antonio Conte: I want to be a ‘big brother’ to Tottenham stars who can learn from my lifestyle mistakes
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Antonio Conte has revealed he wants to be a “big brother” to his Tottenham players, by helping them to avoid the lifestyle mistakes he made during his own playing career.

Conte, whose side visit Aston Villa on Saturday, has a reputation as a taskmaster, demanding his players “suffer” during his gruelling training sessions.

The head coach has sought to change various aspects of his squad’s lives, including what they eat and their sleeping patterns, and at the start of his tenure in November he made headlines by reportedly banning ketchup and fatty foods from the players’ canteen. His methods have worked, with an improving Spurs back in the top four after five wins from their last six.

“I’ve tried to bring my experience as a player to my players,” Conte told Standard Sport. “When I was a player, I made many mistakes, so I try to give the right advice to my players, like a big brother, because I want the best for them.

“When you get older, you’re more experienced and you start to understand situations that in the past you thought weren’t useful. In my experience, only after 30 years old I understood the importance of food.

“I understood that to eat well was good for injuries, to recover well. And to sleep eight hours was important. When you become older, you can add experience in your talent, your quality, your professionalism.”

One player Conte has not had to advise on his lifestyle is Harry Kane, who has employed his own chef since 2017 and is renowned for his professionalism.

Conte says Kane is “the right age” to become one of the best strikers in history and believes his approach will ensure he keeps getting better, like Karim Benzema, 34, and Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo, 37.

“We’re talking about a player [Kane] who has already shown to be a top-class striker,” Conte said. “In the past he scored fantastic goals. He was younger, but despite this he scored in a fantastic way in every season.

“When you grow older, you gain experience and understand your body much better, you improve your mentality. Players like them [Benzema and Ronaldo] have great professionalism. Ronaldo — why has he arrived at his age with this mentality and type of performance? Because he takes care of himself, and if you take care in training sessions, about your food, you become more complete.

“And we’re talking about a player [in Harry] who in every training session wants to push himself, wants to improve himself. For him, it will be very easy to find the right way to continue to develop and find the best of him, absolutely.

“Harry also has the right age to show that he can be one of the best [not only] in the world, but in history. I think he’s already in history because he scored a lot of goals for the club and scored a lot of goals for the national team. He’s the captain. He has the right age to consolidate and be one of the best in the world.”

Conte is set to welcome back wing-backs Sergio Reguilon and Ryan Sessegnon, but Oliver Skipp remains sidelined after an injury setback.

Spurs could go in to the match outside the top four, with Arsenal hosting Brighton at 3pm, but should move back into the Champions League places with a win, after a seven-goal swing over their rivals last weekend.

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