Football: Soccer-Conte says he departs champions Inter back where they belong


ROME (Reuters) – Antonio Conte has spoken out for the first time since terminating his Inter Milan contract, thanking players, staff and fans for their efforts in bringing the club back to where it belongs by winning the Serie A title.

Conte led Inter to their first league crown in 11 years this season, but mutually agreed to end his contract one year early on Wednesday amid reports that he was unhappy with plans to cut costs and sell players due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“What a journey these last two years! Every day we became stronger, more determined, with more will and sacrifice, managing to break the mediocrity that we are often surrounded by,” Conte wrote on Instagram.

“No excuses, no alibis, but just work, work and work, along with respect and education. We brought the Scudetto back to Inter after 11 years, but above all we brought Inter back to where it deserves to be for its history and tradition.

“Thank you to those who made all this possible! Players, staff, president, directors and everyone who helped us and supported us over these two years.”

Conte said Inter had succeeded during a “very difficult period” due to the pandemic and they had always felt the support and enthusiasm of the fans.

“The image of the Scudetto trophy being raised from the highest tier of San Siro with all of you celebrating, I will carry that with me forever,” he added.

Inter had finished no higher than fourth for eight years when Conte was appointed in 2019, but the former Chelsea manager led the Nerazzurri to second place in his first season before going one better in 2020-21.

However, the 51-year-old’s ambitions to improve his squad were at odds with the club’s financial situation, with Inter reportedly looking to slash the wage bill by 15-20% and make 70-100 million euros from player sales before next season.

(Reporting by Alasdair Mackenzie; Editing by Toby Davis)

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