Leonardo Bonucci recalled how Antonio Conte was a perfect fit for Juventus as the Italian coach plots to defeat his old team on Sunday with Inter Milan.
Conte is something of an icon over in Turin having enjoyed great success as both a player and manager. He was last with Juventus in 2014, where he led Bonucci and co to the first three of their eight consecutive Serie A titles.
Following spells with Italy and Chelsea, however, Conte is back in the Serie A with Juventus’ arch-rivals Inter.
Now, for the first time in his coaching career, the 50-year-old will take on Juventus in a competitive fixture for Sunday’s Derby d’Italia.
“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,” Bonucci told Sky Sport Italia.
“He drilled that into us from the first day. Conte was perfect for that Juventus.”
After leading Siena to promotion to the Serie A in 2011, Juventus gave Conte his big managerial break by naming him as Luigi Delneri’s replacement.
The Italian promptly restored their glory days after the infamous match-fixing scandal [Calciopoli], which stripped them of two league titles and demoted them to Serie B in 2006.
“He needed a chance with a big club and we had to get back to being great after Calciopoli,” continued Bonucci.
“We needed someone like him, who could make us understand what it meant to wear that jersey.
“After three top years together, our paths separated and we continued the growth process elsewhere, but maintained a relationship.”
Nowadays, Conte is attempting to repeat his Juventus exploits at Inter after replacing Luciano Spalletti in the summer.
The former Chelsea boss has made a solid start by winning all six of his opening Serie A games to take a two-point lead over Juventus.
Bonucci added: “Inter started the season very well, which was indeed easy to foresee after the arrival of Conte.
“They’re a great team, they have top players and their system allows everyone to express themselves in the best way.”
The Inter and Juventus match takes place at the San Siro, with kick-off set for 20:45 (CET) on Sunday.