ANTONIO CONTE will celebrate winning The Double on Saturday with a cigar and a full English.
Chelsea’s manager is just one win away from completing a remarkable first year in the Premier League and transforming a stricken giant of our game.
He has so far resisted the many opportunities to toast his success in a sea of bubbles because he doesn’t like the taste of champagne.
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But victory tonight in the FA Cup Final against Arsenal and clean-living Conte will light up Wembley and then a big fat Cuban.
SunSport can also reveal the Italian has already enrolled in a further course of English lessons this summer in a clear signal he intends to stay at Chelsea and sign a new contract.
Modest Conte comes across as very much a glass half-empty man – he is too aware of the downside of professional football to linger too long on the fleeting giddiness of glory.
After Chelsea clinched the league title at West Brom just over two weeks ago, he was doused with water and sprayed with champagne – but has hardly touched a drop.
He said: “I don’t like a lot the champagne. I celebrated, for sure, with my staff.
“We had a dinner together, and we had ‘cheers’ (pictured below).
“It’s right to enjoy this moment because if you win after a strong season like this, it’s right to enjoy it.
“I don’t smoke, but tomorrow I’m hoping to smoke a cigar if we win. I’m ready to do this.
“But I can tell you that, to celebrate the win, the moment of the celebration is less.
“The low from a defeat is longer than the high after a win.
“At the moment, my situation is very clear. I have two more years’ contract with the club.
“Then, if the club give me the possibility to stay here and to extend my contract, for sure I am available to do this. But we have the same idea about the future.
“The way we have to do things together, to improve the squad and the team.
“But, I repeat, I’m happy for this season and am happy to stay here. I hope to stay here for many years.”
Conte will take a few days off after Saturday’s game and then it’s back down to business and talks with Chelsea over new signings and a likely new contract.
The club are keen for him to commit publicly after weeks of hedging his bets and claiming during the season is the wrong time for such business.
From Sunday the work begins on building Chelsea up even further in his image.
Conte’s assimilation into English football and the culture of our country will continue with classes to perfect his language skills.
He has refused a translator from day one and has had no trouble getting his message across on the training pitch to his players in a stunning transformation at Stamford Bridge.
As ever, Conte draws inspiration from the bad moments to deliver the good times – the 3-0 defeat at Arsenal in September which triggered a major tactical rethink.
He said: “In my career, I had tough moments, at Arezzo in my first role. I started my career with a team in the lower divisions.
“But, for sure, when you arrive at a new club like Chelsea and the level of expectation is so high, you have to be ready to face this moment.
“I think, at this moment, you see the real value of the coach. In these moments you can appreciate the reaction of the coach, if the coach is able to understand the moment and find a solution to completely change the season.
“But, honestly, I was always very calm. I knew that I was putting all of myself, all my strength, into this new job.
“Myself and my staff were working so hard for the club and the players. Anything can happen in a season, but the most important thing is your soul, your heart, are calm.”