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Antonio Conte completes ‘big challenge’ of taking Spurs into Champions League
Spurs booked a return to the top tier of European football with a 5-0 romp at Norwich.
Tottenham boss Antonio Conte says qualifying for the Champions League is like winning a trophy, but again refused to commit to being at the club next season.
Spurs booked a return to the top tier of European football with a 5-0 romp at Norwich, where Son Heung-min shared the Golden Boot with Mohamad Salah after scoring two goals, completing an achievement Conte has described as a miracle.
Tottenham were ninth when the Italian took over in November and then seven points adrift of fourth when they lost to Burnley in February, but 10 wins from their next 14 games saw them overhaul Arsenal, Manchester United and West Ham to claim fourth place.
Conte has continually refused to commit his long-term future to Spurs and again declined the opportunity to do so, citing a pivotal meeting with the club’s hierarchy in a few days’ time.
“I’m under contract until next summer. I signed for one year and seven months,” he said. “I enjoyed a lot my time at Tottenham because, I repeat, for me it was a big challenge.
“To come in during the season, for a coach like me, is not easy. It was a big challenge in a modern club with a fantastic stadium and training ground.
“For me this is a trophy and I’m very happy. Then we’ll see. I always said at the end of the season we’ll speak to the club and find the best solution for me and the club.
“In this moment it was very difficult to speak about this. I’m very tired. I was really focused to get this big achievement.
“It’s very, very difficult to reach a place in Champions League I have to consider this a really big, big achievement for me and for my players. And also for the club to consider this a big achievement… after three years Tottenham is able to play again in the Champions League.
“Despite the fact I didn’t lift a trophy, for me it is a big achievement, for me in a short time and short period in a difficult situation I worked a lot with my players to bring this club to play in the Champions League.
“I want to consider this qualification like a trophy. In my mind, my heart and my head I know what we did in these seven months. Me, my staff and the players. I want to celebrate and we’ll have time to speak with the club about everything.
“Now there’s a lot of emotions in my mind and my heart, for me, for the club and for everybody.
“For this reason, it’ll be very good to rest for four or five days and then have a good meeting with the club to find the best possible solution.”
Norwich’s fate has been sealed for some time and they endured a miserable farewell to the Premier League.
They were never able to recover from Dejan Kulusevski’s early opener, with Harry Kane adding a second before the break.
Kulusevski’s second and then a quickfire brace from Son, who shared the Golden Boot with Mohamed Salah on 23 goals, made it an afternoon to forget.
They lost 12 of their last 15 games and will be returning to the Championship.
“It was painful, I think the first half summed our season up where we start OK, we gave two really poor goals away and when we have moments we don’t take them.
“The quality of their finishes were excellent but for me, we lose the ball and we don’t have the athleticism to win it back.
“It has been hard for the last four games, hard for motivation when you know you are a Championship team next season.
“Today was too far for us against a much better quality team. Historically this football club has found a way to get out of the Championship and we have to do that again.”