Rooney, 32, has delivered in his second stint at Everton, scoring 10 goals and providing two assists in 16 Premier League games.
As Chelsea prepare for a trip to Goodison Park, Conte praised Rooney and said the former England star deserved respect after his international retirement earlier this year.
"We must pay great attention because I think Wayne Rooney is a player who, when he plays, plays with his soul. You can see this during the game," he said.
"It's not simple to make this decision. To stop your career with the national team is not easy, not easy. I'm sure his heart is a bit broken by this decision.
"Only the player understands when the moment is arriving to say 'stop' when it comes to playing for the national team. We must have great respect for this decision."
Rooney made 119 appearances for England, scoring 53 goals before retiring at the age of 31.
Conte believes Rooney may be capable of moving into management once his career is over.
"It's not simple. For sure, you have to [ask] this question to him. I think that he shows great passion," he said.
"Usually when you have this type of passion, you can do this job. In our job, you must have great passion, great patience, great will to suffer."