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Feb 19, 2013

Conte, Pirlo win awards

Juventus boss Antonio Conte has won the much coveted Panchina d'Oro award as Serie A's best coach while his star midfielder, Andrea Pirlo, was awarded the Giacomo Bulgarelli trophy.

• Rzouki: Presenting the Panchina d'Oro winner

Conte was presented with the 'Golden Bench' at the Italian FA headquarters on Monday after leading the Bianconeri to an unbeaten season which resulted in the 2011-12 Scudetto.

It is a highly prestigious award, given that it is voted for by the league's coaches and Conte, speaking after the ceremony at Coverciano, could not hide his delight.

"I'm emotional," he said. "This is a really sought-after accolade and I thank those who voted for me but also those who didn't.

"This is an important push for me to keep studying and getting better as a coach. I also want to thank my players as us coaches are nothing without them. Returning to Juventus was a dream come true for me."

Zdenek Zeman, recently sacked by Roma, was handed the 'Silver Bench', an award given to one of the three promotion-winning coaches - for his efforts with Pescara a year ago.

"I thank my colleagues," he told reporters. "But a big thank you goes to the players and the club who allowed me to work to my beliefs."

Pirlo was awarded the Giacomo Bulgarelli trophy as Europe's most complete midfielder at an event in Bologna.

The 33-year-old midfielder spoke told reporters of his delight at the award, named after the former Italy international who spent his whole career at Bologna.

"Bulgarelli was a great champion and an excellent person," he said. "I wasn't fortunate enough to see him play but everyone speaks very highly of him. I'm happy to be compared to him and proud to receive this prize.

Pirlo then turned his attention to Juve's attempts to retain their Serie A title and their European ambitions.

"Sampdoria did us a favour by holding Napoli to a draw, but we need to already be thinking about Sunday's game," he said. "We know we didn't play too well against Roma and we must turn the corner and focus on solely ourselves and our games.

"The Italian championship has always been difficult because both the big sides and so-called smaller teams are very well-organised. There's no such thing as a game already won on paper and you always have to remain incredibly focused, but our aim is to reclaim the title. "Then there's the Champions League, which remains a dream to experience and chase game after game. Every game further into the competition is a step closer."

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