Premier League Reload - Matchday 8Oct 10
Tottenham's fitness coach Gian Piero Ventrone has died at the age of 62, the club has announced in a statement.
The Italian joined Spurs in November last year following Antonio Conte's arrival in north London.
An obituary posted on the club's website read: "As loveable off the pitch as he was demanding on it, Gian Piero quickly became a hugely popular figure with players and staff.
"He will be greatly missed by everyone at the club and our thoughts are with his family and friends at this impossibly sad time."
In response to the news, captain Harry Kane tweeted: "A truly remarkable man. I’m devastated by the passing of our coach Gian Piero. My love and strength is with his family at this time. His words and wisdom will live on with me for the rest of my life and I’m just grateful I had the opportunity to spend time with him. RIP Prof."
Summer signing Richarlison wrote: "Since I arrived at Tottenham, Gian has been a huge inspiration to me. He always said that I would help him a lot during the season, but who helped me was him... much more than he can imagine. Today we woke up to the terrible news of his passing and we are all devastated."
Ryan Sessegnon also paid tribute, saying: "Was such an amazing person. Was always positive and always pushing us to our limits to become better. My love and strength goes out to his family and everyone connected to Gian Piero at this difficult time. RIP Prof."
Ventrone's pedigree, mentioned in Tottenham's obituary, was a point highlighted by Conte in a recent interview conducted by BT Sport.
"My staff are very prepared and our story speaks very clearly – we’ve not had many injuries and we’re always a team that’s really fit and always runs at high intensity," the former Chelsea boss said.
Ventrone's human touch was evident with Son Heung-min last month when he embraced the South Korean warmly following his hat-trick against Leicester off the bench, emphatically ending a run of eight games without scoring.
After the 6-2 win over the Foxes, Son spoke openly about Ventrone's influence.
"Yeah, he is a killer. He is a killer, but I have a really, really good relationship with Gian Piero. Obviously his English is not perfect. Sometimes he is coming with his phone and translating into English from Italian," the 30-year-old revealed.
"It means a lot. Not as football-wise, I think life-wise he gives me so much advice, which I am really grateful.
"He has been so helpful, giving me always a big hug in tough times and even [in] great times, he has always been next to me and every staff [member]. Even today before we left the training ground, the hotel, we had a couple of minutes of having a nice conversation, which made me really comfortable and really grateful."
Juventus, one of Ventrone's former clubs where he worked as an athletic coach for two separate trophy-laden spells under Marcello Lippi, have also released a statement.
"One of the historic names at Juventus at the turn of the century, Gian Piero Ventrone, has left us at the age of 62.
"Gian Piero worked as a Juventus athletic trainer, from 1994 to 1999, helping Marcello Lippi build and look after a Juve side that won everything in Italy and Europe. He returned to Turin from 2001 to 2004, enriching his, and our, trophy collection with other victories.
"He employed innovative methods in physical conditioning inspired by modern criteria, which led the way in Italy and abroad. A member of Lippi's staff when Italy won the World Cup in 2006, he continued to enrich his career, in France, China and England, where he was working before his passing.
"We will always remember his attention to detail, his work philosophy, and perhaps his greatest talent, the understanding that football - and especially the fundamental components of conditioning and athleticism - was gradually entering a new era.
"A new era that, in part, he helped write.
"Ciao, Gian Piero."