Chelsea’s new Italian manager is giving his vocal chords some major exercise at the moment, yelling instructions to his players every long hour of every day.
His lozenge of choice, Borocillina’s, are Italian of course. Conte jokes that he should be looking at a sponsorship deal he is using them so much.
He has a reputation as a dour, fanatical disciplinarian who works himself just as much as his charges. But on his 47th birthday, he proved to be wry and engaging company.
“I need these for my throat – I’m shouting too much,” he said, his throat straining.
“My voice is important – to call and talk to the players. During games, it can be very difficult for my throat.
“But it is important for me to make them understand me. Especially when starting new work together. When I started coaching I sometimes used a megaphone.”
My voice is important – to call and talk to the players. During games, it can be very difficult for my throat. But it is important for me to make them understand me
It would not be a surprise to see Conte turning up on the touchline this season like an Oxbridge rowing coach, megaphone in hand, racing up and down on his bike.
To say he is lively is putting it mildly. During one match at the Euros when Italy scored he leapt onto the dugout roof to celebrate.
Conte’s English is good but he admits he has not had time to brush up on his lessons, and sometimes has to guess his answers to questions. But his players have been getting the message.
They have been worked hard this summer as Conte tries to imprint his method in their minds. Double sessions every day, and intense study of videos of matches and training. No stone is being left unturned.
“We have to improve,” he says.
“After the training session, video analysis. You can see the good and the bad, show players how to improve. Not because I want to find blame. Sometimes 20 or 30 minutes of video is more important than three training sessions.”
Antonio Conte has revealed he likes to bark instructions to his players from the touchline
Conte has absorbed much from every manager he has worked under, but Giovanni Trappatoni is the man he regards as his true father figure.
Trappatoni signed the 21-year-old for Juventus in 1991, and stuck by him during a debut season when Conte admits he was overawed.
Trappatoni, who won six Serie A titles with Juve and one European Cup in a glittering managerial career which saw him coach the likes of Bayern Munich, Benfica and the Republic of Ireland, remains a key figure.
“He is a fantastic man,” says Conte.
“He has been very important for me. When I arrived at Juventus I was only 21 – you find yourself close to players who were your idols, like StefanoTacconi, Toto Schillaci, Roberto Baggio. I was afraid. But in those moments Trapattoni was a father for me.
“In the end I had 13 years at Juventus. I was captain, winning a lot and losing a lot. Four Champions League finals – one win and three lost. Europa League – one won and one lost. The Italian Cup, one won and two lost.
“When you lose, you learn a lot about yourself. That experience is important. I know what players are thinking.”
That first title win as a manager with Juventus in 2012 is the best moment of his career so far.
“We were the underdogs – the press had us down for sixth or seventh,” he says.
“Inter had Zlatan Ibrahimovic and it was the only season he didn’t win the championship. I hope this season is the same!”
The only subject that brings a frown is when his involvement in the Italian match-fixing scandal – the ‘Scommessopoli’ – when he was coach at Siena is brought up. It dogged him for four years before he was finally cleared of all charges in May.
“It was a story I didn’t accept. I fought it. I risked going to court,” he says. “It would have been easy to accept the punishment and a ban. But I wanted to be judged.
“In Italy the players, the people, the managers know me. They know who Antonio Conte is. The national team still chose me as a coach in that period.”
Conte is deeply religious, and his Catholic faith, as well as the support of wife Elizabetta and daughter Vittoria, were crucial during this period.
“I like to go to church. Religion is an important part in my life. It has helped me in bad moments.
“When I am not working my family are the most important. My wife and daughter will come over in December. We have found a good Italian school in London, and a nice house. Now we want to have a son for a brother for her.”
And, perhaps, another trophy or two.