Antonio Conte skips Tottenham FA Cup press conference

Tottenham: Conte discusses confidence after Palace victory

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Tottenham boss Antonio Conte skipped his press conference on Friday ahead of his team’s FA Cup clash with Portsmouth following the death of Gianluca Vialli. The 53-year-old was due to speak to the media ahead of the third round showdown but didn’t appear following the announcement that Vialli had passed away at the age of 58.

Conte and Vialli spent four years playing alongside one another at Juventus, where they won the UEFA Cup in 1993, the Serie A and Coppa Italia double in 1995 and the Champions League in 1996. Vialli left Italy in 1996 to sign for Chelsea and later became the west London club’s player-manager.

In November 2018, Vialli announced that he had been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. And he later told RAI 1: “I cannot fight with cancer because I would not be able to win this battle, it is a much stronger opponent than me. Cancer is an unwanted travel companion, but I can’t help it.

“It got on the train with me and I have to go ahead [and] travel with my head down, never giving up, hoping that one day this unwanted guest will get tired and leave peacefully for many years because there are still so many things I want to do in this life.

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“I realise that people can look at me, see that I am doing alright, and hope that they might do the same. Maybe because I was a footballer and a strong man, but also fragile and vulnerable at the same time, so I think someone may have recognised themselves in this. I’m here with all my faults and my many fears, but also with the desire to do something important.”

Vialli was given the all-clear in 2020, before the cancer returned in 2021. And he was forced to step away from his role with the Italian national team last month. The sad news of his death was then announced on Friday morning.

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Tottenham are set to host Portsmouth in a lunchtime kick-off on Saturday aiming to avoid an upset. Portsmouth won the FA Cup in 2008 under Harry Redknapp after beating Cardiff 1-0 in the final. But the club have since been relegated to League One and are currently 12th in the table.

Tottenham have been out of form recently and have only won three of their last eight Premier League matches. But they were at their clinical best during the second half of their top-flight showdown with Crystal Palace on Wednesday night as they ran in four unanswered goals to win the match 4-0.

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