ROME (AP) — Antonio Conte is ready to turn Italy back into a powerhouse.
The former Juventus coach agreed a two-year contract Tuesday as Italy's national coach. He succeeds Cesare Prandelli, who resigned immediately after Italy's early elimination from the World Cup in Brazil.
"I like tough challenges. I am very convinced we can rise up again because Italy has to be among the top teams in the world," Conte said at a news conference. "I'm bringing my mentality here. I live for winning. The difference between victory and defeat is for me the same as between life and death."
He reportedly will earn $11 million for his two years, some of it supposedly funded by team sponsor Puma. As part of the deal, the Italian soccer federation owns all of Conte's image rights.
Conte quit Juventus last month after guiding the club to a third successive Serie A title.
"I didn't expect to be in this position 35 days after leaving Juventus," Conte said. "In my head I was going to travel around Europe, improve my languages. I was expecting to wait for a top club in Europe, maybe during the season or at the end."