Italy coach Antonio Conte refused to be drawn on reports widely linking him to the managers’ job at Chelsea, insisting he will remain fully focused on his role with the national team until the end of Euro 2016.
Conte has emerged as the front-runner to be Jose Mourinho’s long-term successor at Stamford Bridge and announced last week that he would step down as Italy boss following this year’s tournament in France.
Speaking ahead of his country’s forthcoming international friendlies against Spain and Germany, Conte maintained he would not be distracted by the prospect of taking the next step of a highly regarded career in the Premier League.
“[Moving to] England?I am not fascinated by anything right now. I am focused on the national team,” he said.
“This experience helped me to improve myself.
“It has been a fantastic and extraordinary experience, I’ve always envied coaches who represented Italy.
“Now it’s my turn, and I’m happy. We’ll try to work as usual.”
Conte defended the decision to confirm his forthcoming departure, although he claimed it was a decision reached with some difficulty.
“I was, quite rightly and correctly from all points of view, asked to clarify my position before the Euros, as the contract would have expired automatically,” he explained.
“I thought well and pondered the decision and from the moment I was 100 per cent sure of what I felt inside I informed [FIGC president Carlo] Tavecchio – the person who wanted me here and chose me. I informed him of my decision in a calm manner.”
Conte added: “I was conflicted because it’s difficult to leave a group which is working so well.
“I will listen to my heart, like I did when I accepted the Italy job.”