Conte misses press duties after Vialli death continues tragic three months

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Conte misses press duties after Vialli death continues tragic three months
Conte misses press duties after Vialli death continues tragic three months

Antonio Conte left press duties to his assistant after Tottenham's FA Cup third round win over Portsmouth, with the Italian mourning the loss of his friend Gianluca Vialli.

Chelsea legend Vialli passed away at the age of 58 on Friday following a long battle with pancreatic cancer, with the football world paying tribute to one of the game's most popular characters, who played with Conte at Juventus.

Conte pulled out of his pre-match press conference on Friday, and it was assistant Cristian Stellini who took questions on Saturday following the 1-0 win, which was achieved courtesy of Harry Kane's second half strike.

Writing on Instagram on Friday alongside a photo of himself and Vialli, Conte said: "I told you and wrote that you have always been an inspiration to me as my Captain and for how you were proving to be Strong, Proud and Brave, fighting like a lion against this disease.

"Always in my heart my friend. Ciao Gianluca."

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The loss is the third to hit Conte during what has been a heartbreaking few months for the Tottenham manager.

Conte misses press duties after Vialli death continues tragic three monthsConte was a close friend of Vialli's (Antonio Conte Instagram)

Spurs fitness coach Gian Piero Ventrone passed away from leukaemia at the age of 61 in October, with the Italian seen as one of Conte's mentors having also worked with him at Juventus.

Then last month the former Sampdoria, AC Milan, Torino and Serbia coach Sinisa Mihajlovic, a playing contemporary and good friend of Conte's, passed away at 53 following his own battle with cancer.

Conte is said to have been deeply affected by the sad deaths, and left media duties to Stellini after Spurs shrugged off their League One opponents on Saturday.

Conte misses press duties after Vialli death continues tragic three monthsConte saw his side beat Portsmouth 1-0 on Saturday (Getty Images)

"The first task is progress and we have to say compliments (to Portsmouth)," said the Italian, who also worked with Conte at Juventus and Inter Milan.

"Very good game, tough opposition, they played very compact, closed the space and were close to being perfect. We expected this type of game but they were so tough.

"It was a good game in the FA Cup because when you play a team from League One you expect this. This is good for the game and we enjoy more if we have this type of team.

"We had the control of the game for all of the 90 minutes but we didn't create many chances in the first half because they were so compact and we were maybe focused on not to move the ball quickly.

"In the second half we tried to stretch them and create the space in the middle, with players changing position and it was good for Skippy (Oliver Skipp) and Harry (Kane) to have great chances."

Mark Jones

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