Nocerino wants Conte return after Italy's World Cup 'disaster'

The Chelsea manager has been linked with the Azzurri post alongside Zenit boss Roberto Mancini and Carlo Ancelotti

Antonio Nocerino hopes Antonio Conte returns to coach Italy as the celebrated football nation attempts to pick up the pieces after their failure to qualify for the World Cup.

Football's showpiece international tournament will be staged without four-time champions Italy for the first time since 1958 following November's embarrassing play-off defeat to Sweden.

Gian Piero Ventura was sacked after the shock 1-0 play-off loss, with Italy Under-21 coach Luigi Di Biagio appointed on a caretaker basis for this month's international friendlies against Argentina and England.

Conte, who oversaw Italy's run to the Euro 2016 quarter-finals, is on the shortlist to replace Ventura, while Zenit's Roberto Mancini and former Bayern Munich head coach Carlo Ancelotti have also been linked.

And former Italy international Nocerino would love to see the Chelsea boss return to the Azzurri dugout.

"I hope for Italy, for the country, for football, Conte comes back," ex-AC Milan, Juventus, West Ham and Orlando City midfielder Nocerino told Omnisport.

"Or Mancini, he has great international experience. When he coached Inter, he won plenty. He has the attitude to coach at international level. Even Ancelotti.

"I hope it is one of those three coaches because they have plenty of experience. I hope Italy regain credibility again. Football in Italy is very important, like a religion.

"The World Cup without Italy is not a World Cup for me."

Antonio Conte Italy

Reflecting further on Italy's absence from the World Cup for the first time in 60 years, Nocerino added: "It's a disaster. It's a disaster for the players because they are my friends. For Italy, the country and football, it's a disaster.

"The coach – Ventura – is the coach without international experience. He didn't have big experience in Europe or in the international game, important matches.

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"The Champions League and Serie A is totally different. The Premier League and the Champions League is totally different. The Champions League is the same as international football. Every team are strong.

"You remember when Italy won the World Cup [in 2006]. The players, the coach [Marcello Lippi] with huge experience. A big career before coaching the national team.”