Antonio Conte will step down as Italy coach after this year’s European Championship.
The announcement was expected to arrive early this week, with Conte being strongly linked to Chelsea.
There was no mention of the Premier League club but Italian soccer federation president Carlo Tavecchio revealed on Tuesday that the former Juventus coach misses the day-to-day life of club football.
“Antonio Conte has told me that at the end of the European Championship, his experience will end. He feels the calling of the pitch, the daily training sessions and that’s understandable,” Tavecchio told reporters on his way into a federal board meeting.
Conte took over as Italy coach in 2014 after Cesare Prandelli resigned following a first-round exit at the World Cup in Brazil.
Conte steered Italy to first place in its qualifying group for the European Championship, earning a spot in the final tournament with a game to spare.
Tavecchio has offered a contract extension to Conte on multiple occasions but the 46-year-old coach preferred to keep his options open.
“We’ve always backed Conte, we talked almost daily,” Tavecchio said. “We will evaluate matters calmly, now’s the time to take stock and continue our dealings with a person who restored the image of our national team with hard work and sacrifice. And I will always thank him for that. Life’s destinies change.
“He misses the daily routine, the smell of the grass, that’s the most important thing he said to me. It’s not a question of money, it’s a question of work. That’s what he told me. He wakes up in the morning and he misses the pitch.”
Considered the best of Italy’s younger generation of coaches, Conte took charge of the national team shortly after his shock resignation from Juventus.
Conte had won the Serie A title with Juventus in each of his three seasons in charge, being voted best manager on each occasion. Juventus also achieved the remarkable feat of going unbeaten in the league in his first campaign.
Before that, Conte steered Siena to an immediate return to the top flight after relegation in 2010, following spells with Arezzo, Bari — where he won the Serie B title — and Atalanta.
Conte as a player showed steely determination and always gave his utmost for the shirt he wore — Lecce, Juventus and Italy — and he demands that from his players.