Leonardo Bonucci Sings Praises of Antonio Conte Ahead of Sunday’s Derby d’Italia

?Juventus defender Leonardo Bonucci has heaped praise on his former manager Antonio Conte as the pair prepare to be reunited on Sunday. 

Conte enjoyed a fine period of success at Juventus between 2011-2014, winning three league titles in three years and going the entire 2011/12 season unbeaten. The Italian returned to domestic Italian football in May when he was appointed Inter boss, and his side currently sit top of Serie A, two points above former side Juventus.

Leonardo Bonucci,Antonio Conte

Bonucci was an integral part of the ?Juventus side that dominated Italian football during the former Chelsea manager’s tenure as one member of the trademark Conte back three. He has spoken about the joys of playing under the Italian ahead of Sunday’s hotly anticipated top of the table clash.

In an interview with ?Sky Sport Italia, Bonucci said: “What Conte gave me was hunger, the desire to never give in, the mentality that allows you to go beyond pain to reach your objectives.

“He drilled that into us from the first day. Conte was perfect for that Juventus: he needed a chance with a big club and we had to get back to being great after Calciopoli. We needed someone like him, who could make us understand what it meant to wear that jersey.

Antonio Conte,Leonardo Bonucci

This is the first time Conte has come up against Juventus in a competitive fixture since he departed for the national team job in 2014. He will face another former Chelsea boss in the opposition dugout, with Maurizio Sarri occupying his old role.

The Juventus manager is famously a relentless tactician, and Bonucci admitted that the squad are still adjusting to their new footballing philosophy.

Maurizio Sarri,Antonio Conte

“This season, we defend zonally in space. At the start, we had to overcome some difficulties but we’re working well now: our growth won’t end here.”

Like his former manager Conte, Bonucci has been employed by both ?Inter and Juventus, although he only played one Serie A game (in 2006) for the Milan side across a couple of spells – and left for a season at AC Milan in 2017.

“What matters most of all at Juve is the sense of belonging,” he insisted, “the attachment to the shirt.

“Coming back here empowered me as a man: when you leave this club, you realise what you’ve lost. Embracing them again gave me indescribable joy.”

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