Antonio Conte will become the next permanent Chelsea manager after Euro 2016, the club have confirmed.
Last month, Italian football federation (FIGC) president Carlo Tavecchio announced that Conte will step down as Italy coach when his contract expires after the European Championship, adding that the 46-year-old had told him that he wanted to “get back to day-to-day coaching.”
Chelsea have now confirmed that Conte, who has signed a three-year deal, has been chosen as the full-time successor to Jose Mourinho, who was sacked in December after presiding over a disastrous Premier League title defence.
“I am very excited about the prospect of working at Chelsea Football Club. I am proud to be the coach of the national team of my country and only a role as attractive as manager of Chelsea could follow that,” Conte told Chelsea’s official website.
“I am looking forward to meeting everyone at the club and the day-to-day challenge of competing in the Premier League. Chelsea and English football are watched wherever you go, the fans are passionate and my ambition is to have more success to follow the victories I enjoyed in Italy.
“I am happy we have made the announcement now so everything is clear and we can end the speculation. I will continue to focus on my job with the Italian national team and will reserve speaking about Chelsea again until after the Euros.”
Chelsea chairman Bruce Buck added: “Antonio Conte has a record of consistent success in his career as a manager and as a player. We look forward to welcoming him to Stamford Bridge and are confident he will find all he needs to maintain that high standard of achievement.”
Conte has been taking English lessons for months in preparation for life in the Premier League and in February sources told ESPN FC that the 46-year-old had moved ahead of Massimiliano Allegri, Diego Simeone, Jorge Sampaoli and Mauricio Pochettino in the running to become the next Chelsea manager.
The Blues have enjoyed a relative revival under interim manager Guus Hiddink and remain unbeaten in the Premier League in 2016, but lie 10 points adrift of fourth-placed Manchester City with just seven matches to play, while recent defeats to Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League and Everton in the FA Cup ended any hopes of silverware.
Chelsea will hope that Conte can replicate the immediate impact he had at Juventus, where he inherited a team that finished seventh in Serie A in the 2009-10 season and led them to three straight titles.
He took charge of Italy after the 2014 World Cup and oversaw a successful qualification campaign for Euro 2016, which saw the Azzurri finish top of Group H ahead of Croatia and Norway.
Italy, the 1968 European Championship winners, have been drawn against Belgium, Republic of Ireland and Sweden in Group E at this summer’s tournament.
Last month, the ANSA news agency reported that the trial over Conte’s alleged failure to report match fixing while in charge of Siena is set to begin on April 4.
Conte was found guilty of failing to report unsporting behaviour in relation to a match-fixing investigation by an FIGC sporting court in 2012. He was initially banned for 10 months, which was reduced to four months on appeal.
The trial beginning in April is part of a criminal investigation in which 103 people are on trial.
Conte, who has denied the charge, could be banned from all sporting activity for over six months and fined at least €30,000 if found guilty.