Antonio Conte has repeated his commitment to Chelsea and suggested he was offered the chance to take charge of the Italy national team.
Speculation over Conte’s future has been a constant presence in the background of his second season at Stamford Bridge, which ended with a 1-0 FA Cup final win over Manchester United at Wembley on Saturday.
Conte has a year remaining on his Chelsea deal and has brushed off reports of a departure in the near future, despite coaches including Luis Enrique being linked with succeeding him.
And after Eden Hazard’s first-half penalty ensured both of Conte’s Chelsea campaigns have ended with silverware, the Italian hinted he has had the chance to leave the club of his own volition.
“I have a contract and I have committed to this club,” Conte said at a post-match news conference. “My position was always the same. I committed despite the speculation about my future.
“One day I had the possibility to go to the national team, one day this team, one day another important team, but every day in every press conference I always say I am committed.
“I have decided to respect my contract and, as you know very well our job is not simple. I understand that the club can make a decision, positive or negative, but I am the first to understand because I am the coach and at an important club in England and the world and it’s right they demand a lot from me.
“I repeat I have great respect for my club and for sure they will make the best decision. I am the first to accept every decision for the future because for sure after these two seasons I will always love this colour, these fans and this club. Also if my future must be in a different way.”
Conte suggested he takes more pleasure from beating United and rival Jose Mourinho to secure FA Cup glory than last season’s Premier League triumph in his first year in charge at Stamford Bridge.
“Don’t forget I was used to winning every season,” three-time Serie A champion Conte said.
“This type of season can create some problems. When you have this type of season there are moments where there are a lot of questions from yourself [the media] you understand, but also in a difficult season like this I showed I am a serial winner.
“To win in this way in this season has given me more satisfaction than my other wins in the past.”