LONDON (AP) — Gian Piero Ventrone, an Italian fitness coach who worked at English club Tottenham after holding similar roles with Juventus and Italy’s World Cup-winning team of 2006, has died. He was 61.
Tottenham announced the death of Ventrone on Thursday, without giving any more details.
Nicknamed “The Marine” because of his intense fitness sessions, Ventrone joined Tottenham after Antonio Conte took charge as manager in November last year. He was popular with the players; Son Heung-min recently talked about Ventrone’s impact after ending his slow start to the Premier League with a hat trick against Leicester on Sept. 17.
“Not just football wise, I think life wise he gives me so much advice. I am really grateful,” Son said.
“He has been so helpful, giving me always a big hug in tough times and even great times he has always been next to me and every staff.”
In its statement announcing Ventrone’s death, Tottenham said he was “as loveable off the pitch as he was demanding on it.”
Ventrone built a strong reputation during a spell with Juventus from 1994-99, when he first encountered Conte as a player when Marcello Lippi was coach. He also worked at Juve from 2001-04 and later under Lippi with Italy — including when the Azzurri won the World Cup in 2006.
“He employed innovative methods in physical conditioning inspired by modern criteria, which led the way in Italy and abroad,” Juventus said.
“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.”
Ventrone also worked at Italian team Catania, French team Ajaccio as well as with Jiangsu Suning and Guangzhou Evergrande in China.
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