Gian Piero Ventrone is Antonio Conte’s chief tormentor, a fitness guru with a fearsome reputation tasked with turning Tottenham’s players into the fittest and toughest in the Premier League.
It was synchronized Marina when he worked at Juventus, where he pumped Ride of the Valkyries from the loudspeakers as his players ran, and installed a ‘bell of shame’ to be called by the first to quit.
This week, in 30-degree heat and 70 percent humidity here in Seoul, his trademark practice — 42 pitches covered in good polish with minimal recovery time — created a scene of destruction.
Gian Piero Ventrone, Tottenham’s notorious fitness trainer, is nicknamed The Marine
Boss Antonio Conte is putting his players through a punishing pre-season in Seoul
The world’s stars were reduced to quivering physical wrecks, with England captain Harry Kane kneeling and vomiting.
‘It’s pretty normal,’ said Spurs defender Matt Doherty.
‘Even the previous week in London was in that direction. I don’t know if there will be teams that are more prepared than us.
‘This is difficult, the most difficult pre-season I’ve had. It’s unlike anything I’ve done before.
‘But you get great satisfaction when the session is over.
‘Your mind was tortured in the middle of it, but when it’s over you feel proud and go to bed thinking, “Yeah, I worked hard today”. You just think, “Don’t give up.” Even if you crawl across the line or have to run or walk to the end.
‘It’s that determination that the manager instilled in us to keep going and never give up.’
As there were no Wagner operas at the World Cup stadium in Seoul, Ventrone called on local fans to cheer his players through the pain.
When they finished and regained enough energy to get back on their feet, he petted them, smiled and encouraged them.
Tottenham stars Harry Kane and Son Heung-min are already feeling the strain ahead of the season
Conte, who came under his tutelage as a player at Juventus, likes to joke that the 62-year-old Ventrone has gone soft.
‘It’s funny because usually when you have a fitness coach like that running you ragged you start to dislike him – but we all absolutely love him,’ said Doherty.
‘We respect him so much that we do whatever he tells us.’
Doherty missed the last seven games of last season with a knee injury and has worked throughout the summer to ensure he is fit to compete for a place in Conte’s new-look squad.
“My plan is to stay and fight for my place,” he said. ‘We have an exciting season ahead of us. Why would I want to go anywhere else?’
A certain number of players had to run 42 lengths, while those who came back late had to complete 30 runs