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Antonio Conte made Dejan Kulusevski feel like a new man at Tottenham

Antonio Conte made Dejan Kulusevski feel like a new man at Tottenham

Dejan Kulusevski had a highly memorable 2022. It started with a surprise move to the Premier League, but not joining a traditional ‘giant’. Instead, the 31-year-old received a call from Antonio Conte and decided to follow in his footsteps at Tottenham Hotspur.

When he initially arrived in the league, Kulusevski wasn’t really known by that many fans. Nor did the majority of supporters tip him to be a big success story for Spurs.

However, the Italian gaffer trusted his quality and identified him as the ultimate final tool to make his front three among the most dangerous attacking trios in World Cup.

The 22-year-old featured heavily for them in the second half of the season, scoring six goals and providing eight assists across all competitions.

Kulusevski introduced himself in style with a memorable performance in his side’s 3-2 win at the Etihad Stadium over Manchester City last season, in which he scored a goal and even set up one as well.

He also scored against Brighton & Hove Albion, Leeds United and more to enjoy a prolific second half of the season, proving himself as arguably the best signing of the last winter transfer window.

Kulusevski’s impressive performances in 2022 have helped him win the 2022 Sweden Player of the Year award. In seven appearances for the Swedish national side this year, he has also been able to register 3 assists and score a goal for them.

The 22-year-old was able to beat the likes of Manchester United defender Victor Lindelof,  Newcastle United forward Alexander Isak, and the 2021 Sweden Player of the Year winner Emil Forsberg. After winning the trophy, Kulusevski seemingly had a dig at his former side Juventus for almost ruining his career.

He said: “This whole year has been amazing. I went to Tottenham and got my life back.

“My period at Juventus was very, very hard. I came out of it stronger. In the second season (2021-22, ed.) I started to doubt myself, thinking I wasn’t as good as I thought. That’s the thing worst that can happen to a footballer.

“So I started to doubt all the decisions made on the pitch. Now I’m in a fantastic place, on and off the pitch. There will also be bad moments. Now things are going well in the national team and things they are good in the club.

He also had plenty of praise for Spurs boss Antonio Conte, saying: “He’s very strict, he has a lot of rules. At the same time, he’s very kind, he really cares about the person behind the player.

“He takes care of everyone on the training camp, including the youngsters. Some coaches don’t even coach the team, but let the assistants take care of it, he’s there with everyone and gives everything he has every day. I admire him.”

This is also a stark change of tune from the 22-year-old from what had said upon leaving Juventus. Kulusevski had stated that he hopes to return to the Serie A giants one day in his career.

Despite those sweet words, it’s quite clear that the Spurs winger was not happy with the way he was treated by Allegri and not given enough opportunity to prove himself to the Italian giants.

He has definitely been able to turn his career around after arriving at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium and has perfectly adapted to Conte’s 3-4-3 formation.

The 22-year-old is not only a menace in counter-attacks or creating chances, but also puts in the hard work to help his side defend against opposition attacks.