Antonio Conte has been explaining the changes he has made to the food available to his Tottenham Hotspur players and how they cannot cheat the new system.
While nothing is believed to be banned under the new regime, the Italian and his staff are understood to have asked the players to eat like professionals, which includes not using condiments such as ketchup and mayonnaise, while the new boss has also asked for the Spurs canteen food to be cooked with less oil, butter and fats and for the players to do similar at home.
Juande Ramos did similar when he joined Tottenham back in 2007 and Conte believes the players have a duty to prepare themselves in the best way for the training and matches they face. That includes their diet and nutrition as well as their fitness regime.
“I consider a good nutrition and attitude very, very important because for the player it is not only important the training or the game,” said the Spurs boss.
“I think you have to prepare yourself in the best possible way, I consider to sleep very important, to eat well very important. I consider to have good nutrition very important because these two aspects bring the player to recover quickly.
“If you have this type of situation in the right way you can recover quickly, you are ready to work, also sometimes to work very hard, and also to avoid injuries. To be professional it means to have all of these situations in your mind.
“Obviously I like also to speak about good nutrition. I spoke with the nutritionist. I am going slowly slowly because now the most important thing is to work very well on the pitch, to give the priority to the physical and tactical and mental aspect. For sure we are going step by step. We want to improve every aspect of my players.
“Usually when I start to work with players maybe at the start someone can’t understand something like this but then when they start to understand they don’t go away from this road. I hope my English was good enough to understand my idea about this.”
He added: “In Chelsea, I did exactly the same. We spoke about the good food, to eat well. This is a must, in every club I had a nutritionist.
“This aspect is important because you have to stay the right weight. You have to have good fat and good muscle, but this is a part of our work, and the player’s work.
“To be professional means you have to take care of your body. If you do this you risk less injury, and you are ready to face the training because sometimes the training is hard.”
Conte was asked whether he will know if some of his Tottenham players decide to eat some of the prohibited foods when they are away from the club’s Hotspur Way training complex.
“I can see the results from the nutritionist and I can see if this is okay or not okay and maybe you are not doing well outside the training centre,” he said with a knowing smile.
“This is a part of it, to improve the players in many aspects and to make the players understand. The pitch and the game is only the final part of your work.
“You have to prepare your body and your mind. Also your heart and your passion to do this. I did this not only at Chelsea and Juventus and Inter Milan but also when I was in Serie B with Siena.
“I was the same because I think I had an important experience as a player and I am trying to bring this into my coaching and my relationships with the players.”
One player who will be crucial to Conte’s success at Tottenham is Harry Kane and the Italian has shown in recent years just how beneficial he can be for strikers, with Romelu Lukaku in particularly raving about the impact his former Inter Milan head coach had on his game.
“Usually I like to work with the strikers, first of all and I usually every season my striker scores many many goals,” he said. “This is important to score goals, but it’s very important in my idea of football that the number nine is a point of reference in terms of the way you want to prepare during the week.
“I’m very happy to be [Harry’s] coach and for sure we can do important things with him because Harry is one player but then all players have to work well.
“If all the players work well it means that we are going for improvement and that we are going to try to fight for something important in the future.
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“Harry is an important player but don’t forget that we win with a team, with the whole squad and we lose with the whole squad and the whole team – and he has to take on bigger responsibility.”
Conte admitted in 2017 when he was Chelsea manager that he wanted to sign the England captain, saying then: “For me, Kane, now is one of the best strikers in the world. If I had to buy one striker I would go to Kane. He is a complete striker.”
When reminded of that statement on Friday, the now Spurs boss said: “I think every manager, every single manager wants to sign Harry Kane because we are talking about a top, top player and now I’m enjoying that I am in the right place to enjoy Harry.
“He is a striker of Tottenham and now I have the possibility to work with him and to exploit his characteristics, his quality and his potential.”