Ryan Sessegnon explains how Antonio Conte is turning Tottenham players into powerhouses – with help from ‘killer’ coach
RYAN SESSEGNON has explained how Antonio Conte is turning Tottenham’s players into powerhouses – with the help of his “killer” fitness coach.
The England Under-21 starlet believes he and his Spurs team-mates were not fit enough before Conte’s arrival in November.
But that is certainly not the case now thanks to Conte whipping the group into shape, which has led to an unbeaten start to the Premier League season.
Sessegnon, 22, said: “The other managers I’ve had at Spurs have been a bit more chilled with training.
“With this gaffer, even if we’re doing tactical stuff, it’s still physically hard.
“The longer runs, the hard distances – eight or nine km runs in training three days before games. It’s hard but your body adapts.
“Then when you’re on the pitch it benefits you. I feel the whole team is stronger, can go stronger than other teams.”
Sessegnon was crocked when Conte first arrived but still got a sense of how he needed to up his physical game when watching on from the sitting on the sidelines.
He explained: “He makes the injured players watch the tactical sessions and I was the first to sit aside and watch the way he wants us to play.
“Then you go and do your physical stuff. They are long days.
“As a team, I don’t think we were really fit and he made us run a lot. I knew when I came back that I had to be ready for the levels.”
Sessegnon has had a history of hamstring problems which he knew he had to do something about if he was to thrive in Conte’s side.
That was why he spent three weeks during the off-season doing strength training out in Portugal with a personal trainer, as exclusively detailed earlier this month by SunSport.
That prepared him for the hellish end-of-session runs during pre-season put on by Spurs fitness coach Gian Piero Ventrone, known as “The Marine”.
Ventrone’s methods left Harry Kane throwing up and Son Heung-min collapsing after 42 gruelling laps of the pitch in front of 6,000 fans during open training in South Korea in July.
Yet it appears to have helped Sessegnon and his team-mates flourish this term – as has Conte’s detailed tactical instructions.
Sessegnon added: “Obviously, (Ventrone) is very good. But he’s a killer, seriously. Very intense. The more physical players, where he knows he can push you, he will be on you.
“My work in the off-season was to make my body more robust.
Carsley’s outside-the-box thinking – on the box
LEE CARSLEY has been creatively using the TVs in the England Under-21 canteen to get his tactical message across.
The Young Lions boss did not enjoy dry classroom lectures as a player and with time limited with his squad, he has been thinking up alternatives.
One of those includes playing loops of the opposition’s build-up play on the televisions where the players eat at our National Football Centre, St George’s Park.
It means the team can absorb the information on how to press without even thinking about it – in the hope that it will pay off on the pitch.
That has already been the case for England’s opener in their vital 2-1 qualifying win in the Czech Republic in June, when Emile Smith Rowe finished off a counter-attack that Carsley and his coaching staff had pre-planned.
Speaking at St George’s Park on Tuesday, ahead of Thursday’s friendly against Italy in Pescara, the Young Lions boss explained: “We do a lot of preparation and we’ve got a lot of information.
“If you went into the canteen now, there’s a loop on of Italy where you can see what they’re building. It shows the build-up, the way they play through, the way they press, their set-pieces.
“It’s getting an understanding of how players that we’ve got learn best. Some players we need to show on the training ground, some are happy getting the game plan on the WhatsApp and taking it in in their own time.
“It’s something we’ve always done. We’ve got such a short amount of time.
“I was never a fan as a player of being in a classroom and being sat there and having a manager shouting at us saying, ‘Watch this, this is going to happen’. I didn’t learn like that.
“Finding what the players’ best learning style is has been key for us. We need to get them on our page quite quickly. We’ve found it’s worked.”
Wing-back Ryan Sessegnon added: “Lee is very good. He doesn’t bombard us with too much information.
“We have clever players in the team anyway. We have a game plan but make our own decisions on the pitch.”
“My body can handle it a bit more when I’m fatigued now. That was mainly the reason I went away, to build that core strength around the body.
“From a fitness point of view, I am where I want to be, Touch wood it (stays) all good. I feel good in my body. With my performances, I’m doing well but still have a few more gears.
“The gaffer is very detailed, we have a lot of tactical meetings and sessions.
“He is very clear on what he wants. It’s probably the first time in my Spurs career that I know what to do with and without the ball in a situation where the formation is clear.”
With 18 Under-21 caps, Sessegnon is one of the elder statesmen of Lee Carsley’s current crop who take on Italy in a friendly in Pescara on Thursday.
Though unlikely, it is not beyond the realms of possibility a strong couple of months with Spurs could land Sessegnon a shock inclusion in Gareth Southgate’s World Cup squad, with the left-back berth looking wide open.
Yet Sessegnon has already seen enough in his career to not go counting any chickens, from being tipped to make the Russia World Cup squad four years ago by then club manager Slavisa Jokanovic when lighting up the Championship at Fulham, to the injury setbacks he has suffered with Tottenham.
Sessegnon added: “Everyone was saying these good things when I was 16-17 but I always stayed grounded because of the people around me.
“It was the way I was brought up. I’m not silly. Stay level-headed when things go well because football is a rollercoaster – you can be a 10 one day and then a one the next.
“I don’t really think about it (England). I have a job at Tottenham and with the Under 21s. If the opportunity comes then I’ll be delighted but it’s not a pressure I’m putting on myself.”
England Under-21 likely line-up: Bursik; Aarons, Harwood-Bellis, Colwill, Sessegnon; Skipp, Gallagher, Ramsey; Elliott, Balogun, Gordon.