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Tottenham assistant coach Gian Piero Ventrone dead at 61

Spurs’ fitness coach, known as “The Marine,” was beloved by players and a friend of decades to Antonio Conte.

Tottenham Hotspur Training Session Photo by Tottenham Hotspur FC/Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images

Tottenham Hotspur has lost one of its own this morning. The club announced via social media that Spurs assistant coach Gian Piero Ventrone has passed away from leukemia. He was 61.

Ventrone, Spurs’ fitness coach, was a long time friend and collaborator with Tottenham head coach Antonio Conte. Known as “The Marine” from his time at Juventus, Ventrone was known as the primary reason why Conte’s teams had such incredible fitness levels. He pushed his players extremely hard — one only has to look at the now infamous training session in Seoul after Tottenham’s first preseason friendly in South Korea as an example — but he was beloved by those under his charge and known as a kind, friendly, and encouraging soul.

Recently, Son Heung-Min credited his relationship with Ventrone as something that helped him while he was struggling with his form in the early part of this season. Sonny shared a long hug with Ventrone after he scored his hat trick against Leicester City before the last international break and had this to say about Ventrone afterwards:

“Yeah, he is a killer. He is a killer but I have a really, really good relationship with Gian Piero. So obviously his English is not perfect, sometimes he is coming with his phone and translating into English from Italian. It means a lot. Not as football-wise, I think life-wise he gives me so much advice, which I am really grateful.

“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. Even today before we left the training ground, the hotel, we had a couple of minutes of having a nice conversation which made me really comfortable and really grateful.”

Matt Doherty expressed similar sentiments about Ventrone, noting in particular how much the players loved him even as he ran them into the ground for the sake of fitness.

“It’s the hardest pre-season I’ve had, not like anything I’ve done before. It’s funny because normally when you have a fitness coach like that who is running you ragged you start to not like him – but we all absolutely love him. We’ve got so much respect for him that we do whatever he tells us to.”

The cause of death was reportedly leukemia, which likely means that Ventrone has been sick for a while. But we don’t know, and it doesn’t matter. Conte cancelled his regularly scheduled press conference ahead of this weekend’s away match against Brighton & Hove Albion. There are more important things to do after you lose a friend and a colleague like Ventrone. There will no doubt be a remembrance of his life and work in football before kickoff at the AmEx Stadium on Saturday.

Rest in peace, Gian Piero.