Ogbonna - We are friends but not on the pitch

  • Ogbonna played under Conte at Juventus and for Italy

  • The Hammers defender says he will be a great addition to the Premier League

  • Ogbonna feels there are a number of comparisons between Conte and Slaven Bilic

It will be a case of friends reunited when Angelo Ogbonna meets up with Antonio Conte once again at Stamford Bridge on Monday night.

Ogbonna knows the Chelsea manager more than most having played under him at Juventus and for Italy – most recently at the European Championship Finals during the summer.

The West Ham United defender believes he will be a great addition to the Premier League and says his passion will be evident for everyone to see.

Ogbonna will enjoy linking up with the experienced manager, but says their friendship will be put to one side as he focuses on helping the Hammers secure their first three points of the season.

Ogbonna said: “I will just say hello to Antonio! We are friends but not on the pitch. Every manager wants to do well in the first game and I think it will really be a good game.

“I think he will bring passion to the Premier League. He likes to improve his players with physical methods and likes to improve the character.

“I call him 'Tailor' because he arrived at Juventus when they were not playing well and the same with Italy and can repair them. It is the same with Chelsea.

“When I heard he was being appointed Chelsea manager and had the chance to come into the Premier League, I think it is good for him.

“It is the same with Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho as well. It is good for the Premier League and something is changing. The football will improve.

“I am still excited to be playing here. The Premier League is the best in the world and everyone wants to come and play here.

“Conte has improved me as a player and all the players he worked with. I have a similar coach as well in Slaven who has the same character and both of them can improve players.”



Antonio sees a number of comparisons between Conte and Slaven Bilic and feels they both help to get the best out of the players.

Ogbonna added: “He is similar to Slaven. Slaven has a good humour and good passion and doesn't like to lose.

“When he loses he is so angry. I think he is similar, they look for the human being first and after that the player, that is how you can compare.”

After producing famous away wins over Arsenal, Liverpool and Manchester City at the start of last season, Ogbonna hopes to see his team produce a repeat performance and feels the move into the new Stadium can help them move onto the next level.

“We are excited. Last year we did well but maybe it was because it was  the last year at the Boleyn Ground. Maybe this year we can do well  because it’s the first year in our new home.

“I hope the new Stadium can help us but nothing it certain. I think these  changes are very good for the team. We are going to do our job really  well because we have everything in place for us.”