Fabrizio Ravanelli considers former Juventus team-mate Antonio Conte to be a “maniacal coach”, but also says he is a “fantastic man and a fantastic manager”.
The Italian joined the Premier League ranks last summer after being handed the reins at Chelsea.
He had work to do picking up a side that struggled in 2015-16, with interim boss Guus Hiddink having papered over cracks that formed under Jose Mourinho.
Conte oversaw a relatively slow start to the season at Stamford Bridge, but saw fortunes change when he backed his own judgement and reverted to his favoured 3-4-3 system.
That tactical tweak was instantly rewarded with the Blues embarking on a run of 13 successive wins in the English top-flight.
They continue to set the title pace at present, with Ravanelli putting Chelsea’s success down to having a commanding presence and born winner at the helm.
“I was at Cobham a month ago to see Antonio and he is a maniacal coach,” a man who tasted Champions League glory alongside Conte in 1996 told Sky Sports.
“He is a fantastic manager and every player at Chelsea is in touch with what he is doing.
“Before he was a manager he was a big man, he always talks to you face to face, and when you are a fantastic man it is easy to be a fantastic manager.
“He won everything as a player and he always had a strong personality, and that's important when you are a manager.
“With Antonio, it's important to be professional in everything, in training and on the pitch.”
Ravanelli believes Conte’s methods will deliver tangible reward, with the rest of the Premier League pack already playing catch-up in the battle for domestic dominance.
He added: “Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City are a little behind Chelsea, and they are strong in attack and at the back.
“Being strong at the back is very important in the Premier League and I think they will win it.”