Antonio Conte has revealed his burning desire to improve his Champions League record ahead of Tottenham’s opener against Marseille on Wednesday but admitted it would be “unthinkable” to win the trophy this season.
Tottenham boss Conte is widely regarded as one of the best coaches in the world, with numerous domestic titles in England and Italy, but has struggled in Europe’s elite club competition.
During five previous seasons in the Champions League as a manager, Conte has only made it out of the group stage on two occasions.
The 53-year-old Italian has never gone further in the tournament than a quarter-final appearance with Juventus.
“Success in Europe with a trophy is important for every manager,” Conte told reporters on Tuesday.
“You know very well that it is not simple, not easy to lift a trophy in Europe and especially the Champions League.
“It is important to be there and you have more probability if you are the coach of a team who expects to win.
“Two years ago with Inter Milan we lost the final of the Europa League against Sevilla. For sure, in my heart, in my mind, in my ambition there is the will to have success in Europe.”
Tottenham were losing Champions League finalists in 2019 under former boss Mauricio Pochettino, but have not played in the competition since the 2019/20 season.
Conte said experience and history count in the Champions League, in which Spurs are expected to progress from a group that also includes Eintracht Frankfurt and Sporting Lisbon.
“The story of a lot of clubs in this competition is really big,” he said on the eve of Wednesday’s home match.
“And to think (Tottenham) to be at the same level, in this moment, is unthinkable but it has to be for us a big push to try and improve and reduce the gap and try to fight for something important.
“The story is very important in football because as I said to you before, Real Madrid when the players play in the Champions League, they are in their house, they breathe the atmosphere, they know the way to manage the situation and probably during the season they reach at least the semi-final in every season.
“Other teams have to build and go step by step but with ambition. We have to play with great ambition, great passion and with great will to be a protagonist in this competition.”
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