Despite being retired for over three years, ex-Chelsea captain John Terry still has his former coach Antonio Conte (now in charge at Tottenham Hotspur) on his case for indulging in too many sweet treats.
After going out for a run on Sunday morning, Terry posted a photo on Instagram of the book he intended to enjoy that afternoon along with a cup of a tea and a couple of hard-earned biscuits. Lo and behold, his ex-Blues boss popped up in the comments to chastise the 40-year-old for his sugar intake.
“5k Run. Some reading time and a couple of biscuits,” Terry wrote in his post. “Taking the dogs for a walk. Sunday lunch with the family down the pub. Have a great Sunday.”
It was at this point Conte entered the comments and barked: “John, only 1 biscuit!”
— John Terry (@JohnTerry26) November 18, 2021
Terry hasn’t played under the Italian since May 2017, and hung up his boots a year later, but that didn’t save him from a scathing critique after lining up a chocolate digestive AND a biscoff to dunk in his Sunday afternoon cuppa.
Of course, Conte’s comment was tongue-in-cheek — at least we assume it was — but the new Spurs boss has a fearsome reputation for being a real disciplinarian, especially when it comes to the fitness of his players.
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An old-school drill sergeant at heart, Conte also likes to ensure that his players are operating at maximum physical condition with his zero-tolerance approach to fitness and stamina. In keeping with this hardcore ethos, the Italian coach is infamous for banning players from indulging in even the most banal luxuries when it comes to their diet. Indeed, one of his first orders of business at Spurs was to make sure fatty sauces like ketchup and mayonnaise, heavier bready foods such as pizza and sandwiches, and even sugary fruit juices were all struck from the canteen menu.
‘Like going to school’
Conte likes his team to function as a single entity, all following his game plan to the letter with little room for virtuoso improvisation. Cesc Fabregas was one such creative player who had to learn to adjust to life under the Italian during his stint at Chelsea.
“I think with Antonio, it was the first time that I’ve seen someone know exactly [what they want],” Fabregas explained during an interview with CBS Sports this week. “It was like going to school. I promise you, he will tell you, from the goalkeeper until you have scored a goal, what you have to do, exactly everything.”
The former Blues star also admitted that he found it particularly difficult having to operate within such strict parameters, adding: “Maybe it’s in a different way to how I saw football. At the beginning it was difficult for me, don’t get me wrong. A lot of running, a lot of intensity. Big sessions, double sessions, gym sessions.
“I had coaches like Pep [Guardiola] who had a lot of positioning game but we had freedom inside of this. With Conte, the freedom was non-existent, he was telling me where I have to pass the ball.”
‘I’m 29 years old in that moment, I’ve already played for 13 years, I played in every final, I won a lot of things and this guy is telling me where I need to pass the ball.'”
Still, as Fabregas was keen to point out, he flourished under Conte and won the second of his two Premier League titles as a Chelsea while the Italian was in charge at Stamford Bridge.
🚧 | LAVORI IN CORSO
— Inter 🏆🇮🇹 (@Inter) October 15, 2019
Conte has also shown that he is steadfastly unwilling to let a little inclement drizzle interfere with his regime.
🥊 | INCONTRO
Nel frattempo, ad Appiano… 😂😂😂 pic.twitter.com/OHORbnPY8q
— Inter 🏆🇮🇹 (@Inter) May 13, 2021
During his time at Inter Milan, Conte decided to settle a grievance between himself and striker Lautaro Martinez by literally duking it out at training. After Martinez reacted poorly to being substituted during a game, Conte addressed the situation by organising a boxing match between the pair (with Romelu Lukaku on ring announcing duty). Let that be a stark warning to any Spurs player who is thinking of stepping out of line under Conte’s command.
He joins in
— UEFA Europa League (@EuropaLeague) August 20, 2020
To be fair to him, Conte has demonstrated that, even in his 40s and 50s, he’s still more than willing to get stuck in during his intensive training drills. A combative central midfielder in his time, he still offers glimpses of the pugnacious spirit that saw him win five Serie A titles and a Champions League during his Juventus days.