‘We are devastated’: Tottenham fitness coach Gian Piero Ventrone dies aged 61 | Tottenham Hotspur

Tottenham are fighting to come to terms with the death of Gian Piero Ventrone, their fitness coach. The 61-year-old Neopolitan, nicknamed ‘The Marine’ because of his tough sessions, had leukaemia.

“We are devastated to announce that Gian Piero Ventrone has passed away,” Tottenham said on Thursday morning. “As lovable off the pitch as he was demanding on it, Gian Piero quickly became a hugely popular figure with players and staff. He will be greatly missed by everyone at the club and our thoughts are with his family and friends at this impossibly sad time.”

Ventrone joined Spurs in November of last year as part of Antonio Conte’s coaching team and he was credited with helping to drive a radical uplift in the players’ fitness. His most famous moment at the club surely came during the pre-season tour of Seoul when he pushed the squad through a brutal session in 30C heat, leaving many of them collapsed on the turf and some – including Harry Kane – throwing up.

The players could see the importance of his work, their respect for him was huge and it was evident when Son Heung-min celebrated with him after scoring a hat-trick against Leicester on 17 September.

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“I have a really, really good relationship with Gian Piero,” Son said. “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 for. 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.”

Conte cancelled his Thursday afternoon press conference to preview Saturday’s game at Brighton as a mark of respect. Juventus and Catania are among the other clubs Ventrone worked for.

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