Rodrigo Bentancur interview: Antonio Conte is intense and always wants 100% – I really like that


Odrigo Bentancur was even surprised at how quickly he adapted to life in the Premier League.

The Uruguayan has made an impressive start to his career at Tottenham since joining from Juventus in January and, before their mistake against Brighton last weekend, was a key figure in their revival under Antonio Conte.

Alongside Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg in midfield, Bentancur has become a vital part of Conte’s 3-4-3 system which propelled Spurs to fourth in the Champions League race.

New signings arriving in the Premier League from abroad can often need time to adapt to the physical demands of English football.

But Bentancur enjoyed an almost seamless introduction, which isn’t surprising when you hear the work he’s done behind the scenes since arriving in London.

“As soon as I arrived I just thought I had to make an impact,” Bentancur told Standard Sport.

“I asked for the help of Daniel, my physical trainer, whom I managed to bring here as well. I knew I had to be prepared because the English game is so intense and so fast from start to finish. I needed to prepare myself on many levels, with my lungs and my physical form for the speed of the game.

Talking to Bentancur, it’s easy to see why a workaholic like Conte was so keen to partner with a player so dedicated to his craft.

“Professional footballers have a lot of free time, so that’s where ‘uncle’ Daniel comes in,” says Bentancur, who has worked with family friend Daniel since he followed him to Italy when he left Boca Juniors in 2017.

“Spending your free time doing extra work and fitness work is positive. Since I arrived I have seen this mentality that Antonio has. It’s something that I really appreciate and like a lot too.

“He’s the kind of coach who is very intense with everything and he wants his players to always give the maximum with everything, 100% all the time.”

Bentancur moved from the small town of Nueva Helvecia in Uruguay to the bustling city of Buenos Aires and joined Boca Juniors at the age of 13, then played in his first super classic against 17-year-old River Plate, which is perhaps why he wasn’t fazed by the challenge he faced.

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“It certainly wasn’t easy back then,” he says of his move to Argentina. “You go from a city of about 10,000 people to a massive city of 20 million people.

“It was a long time in my career, something special and I never wanted to miss anything. I don’t want to disrespect any fanbase in the world, but those Boca fans in that stadium are something different. It’s something special.

Bentancur comes from a family of footballers. His father, grandfather and brother all played professionally, while his cousin is a coach.

The game shaped his childhood, which is why he is keen to work with the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation, which organizes free sporting activities during the Easter holidays.

“If we can lend our profile to help such a cause, it’s always positive,” says Bentancur. “I can’t wait to get a chance to attend one of these events because I spoke to Cuti (Cristian Romero), who had been to an event and met the kids, and he said that it was fantastic.”

The Tottenham Hotspur Foundation organized free sports sessions at the N17 arena during the Easter period.

/ Tottenham Hotspur

Two years after his Boca debut, Bentancur moved to Juventus in 2017. He won three Serie A titles and the Coppa Italia twice with Juve and considers his four and a half years in Italy the perfect preparation to work with. Tale. .

“Italian football is almost like the school of defence,” he says.

“In terms of positional sense and tactical awareness, that really showed during my time in Italy, because that’s what they do extremely well and what you learn.

“The kind of concepts and ideas that they (Tottenham’s coaching staff) also want to overcome, those are things I’m used to seeing.”

Bentancur joined Spurs on a January double-deal from Juventus alongside Dejan Kulusevski, who also took the lead.

“It helps to come with a teammate,” says Bentancur. “I knew he was a great player, but I think he’s displayed even more quality and ability since he joined Tottenham. He’s playing even better than at Juve.

“Our front three are fantastic players. So our job is really to get the ball and give it to them because there’s a 99 per cent chance they’ll score a goal!

Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty I

Despite his encouraging start, Bentancur is keen to stress that this is just the start for him at Tottenham as they look to bounce back at Brentford on Saturday.

“It all starts with a dream,” he says. “I can’t say that it was only difficult for a child to come from such a small space, 10,000 inhabitants. You would never have imagined this.

“But I’m lucky to have succeeded and I think the important thing is never to give up. It’s not about resting on your laurels, it’s about working hard to maintain this level.

During the Easter school holidays, the Tottenham Hotspur Foundation organized free sports sessions at the N17 Arena to help local families stay fit and active. To learn more about upcoming programs, email

standard Sport

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