Ryan Sessegnon explains how Antonio Conte is turning Tottenham players into powerhouses – with help from ‘killer’ coach


RYAN SESSEGNON has explained how Antonio Conte is turning Tottenham’s players into powerhouses – with the help of his ‘killer’ fitness coach.

The England Under-21 star believes he and his Spurs team-mates were not fit enough ahead of Conte’s arrival in November.

Antonio Conte has revived Tottenham since taking charge

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Antonio Conte has revived Tottenham since taking chargeCredit: EPA
Ryan Sessegnon currently plays for the England Under-21s

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Ryan Sessegnon currently plays for the England Under-21sPhoto credit: Getty

But that’s certainly not the case now as Conte has brought the group into shape, resulting in an unbeaten start to the Premier League season.

Sessegnon, 22, said: “The other managers I’ve had at Spurs have been a little more relaxed at training.

“It’s physically difficult with this gaffer, even when we’re doing tactical stuff.

“The longer runs, the hard distances – eight or nine kilometers in practice three days before the games. It’s tough, but your body adapts.

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“Then when you are on the pitch, it benefits you. I feel like the whole team is stronger and can get stronger than other teams.”

Sessegnon was devastated when Conte first arrived but still got a sense of how he needed to improve his physical game watching from the sidelines.

He explained: “He lets the injured players watch the tactical sessions and I was the first to sit aside and watch how he wants us to play.

“Then you go and do your physical stuff. It’s long days.

“I don’t think we were really fit as a team and he let us run a lot. When I came back I knew I had to be ready for the levels.”

Sessegnon has had a history of hamstring issues, which he knew he had to do something about if he was to succeed alongside Conte.

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That’s why he spent three weeks strength training in Portugal with a personal trainer during the off-season, SunSport exclusively detailed earlier this month.

That set him up for the hellish runs at the end of the preseason session hosted by Spurs fitness coach Gian Piero Ventrone, known as “The Marine.”

Tottenham's fitness coach Gian Piero Ventrone with Harry Kane

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Tottenham’s fitness coach Gian Piero Ventrone with Harry KanePhoto credit: Getty

Ventrone’s methods resulted in Harry Kane throwing up and Son Heung-min collapsing after 42 grueling rounds on the court in front of 6,000 fans during open practice in South Korea in July.

Still, it seems to have helped Sessegnon and his teammates thrive this season – as did Conte’s detailed tactical instructions.

Sessegnon added: “Obviously (Ventrone) is very good. But he’s a killer, seriously. Very intensive. The more physical players where he knows he can push you, he will bet on you.

“My work in the off-season was to get my body more resilient.

Carsley’s unconventional thinking – on the box

LEE CARSLEY made creative use of the televisions in the England U21 canteen to get his tactical message across.

The Young Lions boss did not enjoy dry classroom lectures as a player and with time with his squad limited he has devised alternatives.

One of these involves playing replays of opponents’ build-up play on the televisions where the players eat at our National Football Centre, St George’s Park.

This means the team can absorb the information about the pressing without thinking about it – hoping it will pay off on the pitch.

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That was the case in England’s opening game in the crucial 2-1 qualifier in the Czech Republic in June, when Emile Smith Rowe fended off a counter-attack planned by Carsley and his coaching staff.

Ahead of Thursday’s friendly against Italy in Pescara, the Young Lions coach said Tuesday at St. George’s Park: “We’re preparing intensively and we have a lot of information.

“Now if you go to the canteen there is a loop of Italy where you can see what they are building. It shows the structure, how they play, how they press, their set pieces.

“It’s about understanding how the players we have learn best. Some players we have to show on the training ground, others are happy to get the schedule on WhatsApp and record it in their own time.

“We’ve always done that. We have so little time.

“As a player, I’ve never been a fan of being in a classroom and sitting there and having a manager yell at us and say, ‘Look, this is going to happen.’ I didn’t learn it that way.

“It was crucial for us to find out what the best learning style of the players is. We need to get them on our side real quick. We found it worked.”

Full-back Ryan Sessegnon added: “Lee is very good. He doesn’t bombard us with too much information.

“We have smart players in the team anyway. We have a game plan, but we make our own decisions on the pitch.”

“My body handles it a little better when I’m tired now. That was the main reason I left to build that core strength around the body.

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“From a fitness perspective, I’m where I want to be, Touch Wood, it’s (staying) all good. I feel good in my body. I’m doing well with my performances, but I still have a few more gears.

“The gaffer is very detailed, we have a lot of tactical briefings and meetings.

“He’s very clear about what he wants. It’s probably the first time in my Spurs career that I know what to do on and off the ball in a situation where the formation is clear.”

With 18 U21 caps, Sessegnon is one of the oldest statesmen of Lee Carsley’s current year, who take on Italy in a friendly in Pescara on Thursday.

While unlikely, it’s not out of the question that a strong couple of months with the Spurs could see Sessegnon make a shock inclusion in Gareth Southgate’s World Cup squad, with the left-back’s berth looking wide open.

But Sessegnon has seen enough in his career not to count chickens, from his tip for Russia’s World Cup squad four years ago by then-club manager Slavisa Jokanovic when he lit up the championship at Fulham, to the suffered Injury setbacks with Tottenham.

Sessegnon added: “Everyone said those good things when I was 16-17 but I’ve always kept my feet on the ground because of the people around me.

“That’s how I was raised. I’m not stupid. Keep your cool when things are going well because football is a rollercoaster ride – you can be a 10 one day and a 1 the next.

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“I don’t really think about it (England). I have a job at Tottenham and at the Under-21s. When the opportunity arises, I’m happy, but it’s not a pressure I put on myself.”

Estimated line-up of England U21: Bursik; Aarons, Harwood-Bellis, Colwill, Sessegnon; Skip, Gallagher, Ramsey; Elliott, Balogun, Gordon.





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