Without mentioning Chelsea or any other team, Antonio Conte has decided to step down as Italy coach after this year’s European Championship.
The former Juventus player and coach, who took over Italy’s national team after the 2014 World Cup, has been linked with a move to the Premier League.
Italian football federation president Carlo Tavecchio said Tuesday that Conte misses the day-to-day life of club soccer.
"Antonio Conte has told me that at the end of the European Championship, his experience will end," Tavecchio said on his way into a federal board meeting in Rome. "He feels the calling of the pitch, the daily training sessions, and that’s understandable."
Conte became Italy coach after Cesare Prandelli resigned following a first-round exit at the World Cup in Brazil. He 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.
"At this time our utmost concentration is only on the European Championship, where we will try with work and sacrifice to make the most of our potential," Conte said on his official Facebook page. "Those who know me know that I will give everything I have. After that I feel that I must return to managing a club and so have the opportunity to coach every day."
Off the field, Conte is heading to trial in Italy along with 103 others on match-fixing charges in a wide-ranging scandal known as Calcioscommesse.
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."
Considered the best of Italy’s younger generation of coaches, Conte took charge of the national team shortly after his resignation from Juventus.
Conte had won the Serie A title with Juventus in each of his three seasons in charge, being voted best coach 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 division 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.
In the match-fixing case, Conte is accused of committing sports fraud. The match under investigation involving him is Siena’s 1-0 win at Albinoleffe in May 2011. Siena’s 2-2 draw at Novara, also in May 2011, was dropped from the inquiry.
Conte, who has denied wrongdoing, served a four-month sports ban during the 2012-13 season when he was with Juventus.
Former Italy coach Roberto Donadoni has been linked with a return to the national team after impressive results since taking over at struggling Bologna in Serie A. Leicester manager Claudio Ranieri is reportedly also in the frame, as is former England coach Fabio Capello.
"We will take all the necessary steps because the most important interest is not that of Tavecchio, of Conte or of anyone else," Tavecchio said. "The main interest is the national team."