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'Conte is intense in everything he does' - Valero opens up on Inter boss and role model Nadal

21:47 GMT+3 23/03/2020
Antonio Conte Inter 2019-20
The former Chelsea and Juventus manager is enjoying his time back in Serie A and doesn't appear to have lost his trademark passion for the game

Antonio Conte is “intense” in everything he does, according to Inter midfielder Borja Valero – who also named the “incredible” Rafa Nadal as a role model for life.

Former Chelsea and Juventus boss Conte has enjoyed great success since his return to Italy with Inter this season, leading the Nerrazzurri into a Serie A title chase.

Back-to-back defeats had seen the Milan side drop to seven points off the top with a game in hand before Italian football was halted by the coronavirus outbreak, but Valero was full of praise for the 50-year-old.

“I could define Conte in one word: intense,” Valero told Inter’s official website.

“He throws himself fully into everything he does, even the most common tasks.

“He is deeply passionate and has a winning character: he wants to win at all costs and works to do so.”

From coming through the youth ranks at Real Madrid to spending time with West Brom, Villarreal and Fiorentina, one-cap Spanish international Valero has had a much-travelled career.

Now 35, he is likely coming toward the end of his own playing days – but he says fellow Spaniard Nadal is an example for anyone to follow in sport or their day-to-day life.

“It’s important to understand what sport can give us,” he added.

“Having a competitive mentality and applying this in all contexts of life can really help. I like playing tennis when I can.

“For Spaniards, Rafa Nadal is an example to follow, both as a player and as a person. He’s incredible.”

With both Italy and Spain badly hit by the Covid-19 pandemic, Valero knows sport is not a priority right now – and he has urged people to follow instructions from authorities by staying at home in order to curb its spread.

“The most important thing at this time is to show strength and courage and, above all, make people understand that staying at home is of the utmost importance,” he said.

“This makes the difference and is the only way we’ll be able to return to our normal lives as soon as possible.”

Italian Minister of Sport Vincenzo Spadafora has suggested a return date of May 3 is being targeted for Serie A, but Atalanta captain Papu Gomez says he doesn’t believe any short-term solution can be found to allow games to be played.