Antonio Conte has described how getting the chance to watch Mauricio Pochettino up close cemented his status in his mind as "one of the best managers".
Conte and Pochettino will clash for the first time in the Premier League on Saturday when first-place Chelsea take on fifth-place Tottenham at Stamford Bridge.
The former Juventus boss visited West Ham, Spurs and Chelsea while coaching the Italian national team in order to get a taste of the culture of English football and learn from the methods of Sam Allardyce, Pochettino and Jose Mourinho respectively.
Speaking during his pre-match press conference on Friday, Conte labelled the experience of visiting the Premier League clubs "fantastic" and said he particularly enjoyed discussing football at length with the Argentine.
“He's fantastic, he's good, Mauricio," Conte said. "I consider him one of the best managers. Yeah, I tell him thank you again in this situation because I had the possibility to visit the training ground and speak with him, to see their training session.
"I spoke with him and his staff, and we watched a video. I remember that day with great emotion because we spoke a lot about football. When I have the possibility to talk with another coach, another manager, about football I'm very pleased and happy.
"I visited the training ground of Tottenham, a good training ground. I wanted to come in England and compare my ideas and watch the training sessions. My visit was at West Ham, three days, and Tottenham and Chelsea. It was a fantastic work trip."
Conte did admit, however, that as much as he enjoyed the conversations with other managers, some of his methods and secrets he keeps closely guarded.
“I watched the training sessions," he continued. "I spoke with different managers: with Sam Allardyce, with Pochettino and Jose Mourinho here. And it was fantastic because, I repeat, when I have the possibility to compare my ideas and my work with the work of the others, for me it's a moment where I can learn a lot.
"I compared my ideas, my work, with the work of the others. Then, for sure, with these discussions we can learn. For sure, when you talk... when there is a discussion between two managers, you talk about football.
"But not completely about your ideas. You talk. You can talk about 30, 35 per cent of your ideas. The other 65 per cent of your ideas you keep for yourself. It's logical this, for me and the other managers. You study a lot."