Players were subjected to 7 a.m. starts and triple sessions, and Ravanelli recalled: “Once, at half-time in a friendly, the players who were substituted had to do eight one kilometer intervals on the treadmill, a breathtaking test of endurance. .”
It had been nine years since Juventus’ last league title, their longest barren spell since the war, but Ventrone played a key role in their resurgence. He brought computers, then virtually unknown in football. He marched players onto the practice ground for Ride of the Valkyries and had them work out the rousing strains of Queen and Nirvana – and he installed a ‘bell of shame’: the first player to drop the one of his exercises had to go ring him.
His methods worked spectacularly with Lippi’s managerial skills, and over the next 10 years there were five Serie A titles, one Italian Cup, four Champions League finals (with one victory) and the Club World Championship. Ventrone joined Lippi in 2004 when he was named national team manager and played a key role in Italy’s World Cup triumph in Germany in 2006.
Conte had retired from playing in 2004, and as his managerial career gathered pace he knew who to recruit to take care of the physical side, and Ventrone teamed up with him at Bari, Atalanta and Siena, before a stint as an assistant coach at Ajaccio between 2012 and 2014. After looking for Catania, then Jiangsu and Guangzhou in China, Ventrone found Conte at Tottenham in 2021.
There, a familiar theme resurfaced – footballers hating what Ventrone put them through but adoring the man himself. “Normally when you have a physical trainer running to shreds at you you start to dislike them, but that’s not the case,” said Spurs defender Matt Doherty. “We all absolutely love him.”
Gian Piero Ventrone is survived by his wife Cinzia as well as their daughter and son.
Gian Piero Ventrone, born April 14, 1960, died October 6, 2022