Conte reflects on four painful months

Juventus coach Antonio Conte described the last four months as painful but said they had made him stronger after he returned to the touchline following his ban on Sunday.

"It's hard to be kept out of the 90 minutes after you have prepared the team with passion and enthusiasm," he told reporters after the Serie A leaders won 1-0 at Palermo.

"The last four months have been painful. I missed being at all the games, although Massimo Carrera and Angelo Alessio did very well in my place."

Conte, who led Juventus to the Serie A title in his first season at the club last term, was banned for 10 months in August for failing to report match-fixing when he was in charge of Siena in the second tier. He has denied the accusation.

The ban was later reduced to four months on appeal.

"Four months had not changed my way of thinking in any way whatsoever," he added. "I think I have come away from this ban a stronger person.

"It made me reflect and I get to know people better, whether in a positive or negative way. The team's response during this period has been extraordinary, because a team without its coach is like a car with flat tires."

Despite Conte's absence, Juventus have had an excellent first half of the season, leading Serie A and qualifying for the last 16 of the Champions League.


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