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May 5, 2013

Proud Conte hails Juventus charges

There were great scenes in Turin after Juventus confirmed the Serie A Title

Antonio Conte lauded his Juventus players after their 1-0 victory over Palermo secured the club's 29th Scudetto.

The coach, who sat out four months of the season after serving a ban for not reporting a potential match-fixing incident, saw Arturo Vidal's second half penalty clinch a second successive Serie A title.

And though the triumph was dented slightly by the dismissal of Paul Pogba, Conte paid tribute to his side for juggling domestic and European commitments.

"We are very happy and satisfied. The credit goes to these extraordinary lads who went through a tough and tiring season, but were always on point," he told Sky Sport Italia.

"I am proud of them, as it was not easy to win this year despite being favourites, as we knew the Champions League would take a lot of energy out of us.

"We won the title with a triumphant march to secure it four rounds early and I will never stop thanking the players, plus the club and my staff who more than ever had to take a key role thanks to my time in the stands."

Juve were dumped out of the Champions League by Bayern Munich but have enjoyed a cushion at the top of the table for some time. Conte credited their home defeat to Inter as a turning point in their season.

"The home defeat to Inter helped us understand certain things, as we had started this season a bit too confidently considering the performances," he explained. "There were some games, such as against Genoa, where luck was on our side.

"The game with Inter got our feet back on the ground, though the players were certainly not arrogant beforehand. We realised we had to put in a little more grit and determination to confirm the title.

"I think the strangest match, which hurt the most, was the home defeat to 10-man Sampdoria. It was incredible and I got really angry, but also understood it was a freak result that must never happen again. We learned from it."

Juve's players celebrated in time honoured tradition, by soaking their manager with water from the ice bath.

"I was getting ready to have a shower and was violently kidnapped by my players," Conte said. "They could either throw me in the bath with hot water or the one with cold, but as soon as I saw their approach it was clear which one they'd choose!"

Conte's future at Juventus is not entirely straight forward after he insisted he wanted to sit down to discuss things with the club. He has been linked with several top jobs across Europe.

"I am very happy at Juventus and always hoped to come here when I started my coaching career," he said. "It was my dream to come back to Juventus and win. What I said yesterday was at the end of two extraordinary seasons when we achieved targets ahead of schedule, it makes sense to sit down with the club and discuss the projects.

"The bar has been raised higher and there is also an economic crisis in Italy. I thank President Andrea Agnelli, who wanted me here at Juventus and for that I will be always grateful. I want what is best for everyone.

"Raising the bar means if we didn't win the title next year then it would be treated as a problem. We also finished in the top eight in Europe, in front of clubs like Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City, who have enormous economic potential.

"We must be very realistic to see what we are capable of doing and where we can end up. I remember the moment we went out against Bayern Munich, we were inundated with criticism from people saying we weren't up to the task. Every now and then in football you have to sit back, relax and admit the other team was stronger. We doff our hats to Bayern.

"We also know that Juventus always start to win every tournament, but we have to start the season with clear objectives and not raise expectations beyond what is reasonable."

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