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Gian Piero Ventrone dies: Tottenham coach dies aged 61

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Tottenham coach Gian Piero Ventrone has died of leukemia at the age of 61.

Antonio Conte’s fitness guru, who first earned the nickname ‘The Marine’ in Italy for his grueling training regimes, joined Tottenham in 2021 as the manager’s right-hand man.

After falling ill, Ventrone was taken to the Fatebenefratelli hospital in Naples before dying suddenly on Thursday.

Spurs are now mourning the loss of their coach and the funeral will be at 3pm on Sunday.

The club released the following statement on Thursday: “We are devastated to announce that fitness coach Gian Piero Ventrone has passed away.

SPURS’ TRIBUTE

“We are devastated to announce that fitness coach Gian Piero Ventrone has passed away.

The 61-year-old joined the club in November 2021 as part of Antonio Conte’s backroom staff, where he previously held positions at Juventus, Catania, JS Suning, GZ Evergrande and AC Ajaccio.

As sweet off the pitch as he demanded 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.”

The 61-year-old joined the club in November 2021 as part of Antonio Conte’s backroom staff, where he previously held positions at Juventus, Catania, JS Suning, GZ Evergrande and AC Ajaccio.

As sweet off the pitch as he demanded 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.”

Juventus, where Ventrone spent 10 glorious years between 1994 and 2004, also mourned the loss of their former coach.

The Italian club said in their tribute: “Gian Piero Ventrone, one of Juve’s “historical” figures, whose time with us spanned two centuries, left us at the age of only 61.

He spent many seasons as a Juventus fitness coach, from 1994 to 1999, helping, together with Mister Lippi, to build and nurture a Juve that has won everything in Italy and in Europe.

“Ventrone then returned to Turin from 2001 to 2004, enriching his (and our) track record with other victories.

An innovative method, a treatment of the physical condition inspired by modern criteria, learned in Italy and abroad: Ventrone was, always with Lippi, in the staff of the Italian world champion 2006, and has continued to enrich his career of important experiences, in France, China and England, where he lived his last adventures.

‘We will always remember his discreet figure, his attention to detail, his philosophy of work and above all what was perhaps his greatest talent: understanding how football (and thus one of its fundamental components, physical and athletic) gradually entered a new era.

“Goodbye, Gian Piero.”

Tottenham coach Gian Piero Ventrone died suddenly of leukemia on Thursday at the age of 61

The 61-year-old regularly performed his signature drill in Seoul this summer, forcing the Spurs squad through a grueling session in 30-degree heat and 70-percent humidity.

At times, the challenging sessions forced Tottenham stars such as Harry Kane to vomit with fatigue.

Right-back Matt Doherty said: Sports post in July: ‘That is quite normal. Even the week before in London was in that direction.

“I don’t know if there are teams that are fitter than us. This is hard, the hardest preseason I’ve had. It’s not like anything I’ve done before. But you get a great satisfaction when the session is over.

Ventrone - pictured here with his daughter - joined the North London club in 2021

Ventrone – pictured here with his daughter – joined the North London club in 2021

“Your mind is tormented in between, but when it’s done, you feel proud and you go to bed thinking, ‘Yes, I worked hard today.’ You just think, “Don’t give up”. Even if you crawl over the line or have to jog or walk towards the end.

“It’s that determination that the manager instilled in us to keep going and never give up.”

His intense training regimes have helped Conte’s side get off to a positive start to the Premier League this season, with Tottenham third behind Manchester City and leaders Arsenal.

Ventrone was highly respected among Spurs players, with Son Heung-min admitting he was “very comfortable and very grateful” after speaking to the coach ahead of Tottenham’s game against Leicester last month.

The winger then scored a sensational hat-trick against the Foxes, having struggled for goals earlier this campaign.

The fitness guru had a pivotal conversation with Son Heung-min ahead of Spurs' Leicester showdown

The fitness guru had a pivotal conversation with Son Heung-min ahead of Spurs’ Leicester showdown

WHAT IS LEUKEMIA?

Leukemia is a cancer that begins in blood-forming tissue, usually the bone marrow.

It leads to the overproduction of abnormal white blood cells, which fight infection.

But a higher white blood cell count means there’s “less room” for other cells, including red blood cells — which carry oxygen around the body — and platelets — which help blood to clot when the skin is cut.

There are many different types of leukemia, which are defined based on the immune cells they affect and how the disease progresses.

For all types combined, 9,900 people in the UK were diagnosed with leukemia in 2015, statistics from Cancer Research UK reveal.

And in the US, about 60,300 people were told they had the disease last year, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Most cases have no obvious cause, with the cancer not being contagious or hereditary.

Leukemia generally becomes more common with age – with the exception of acute lymphoblastic leukemia, which peaks in children.

Other risk factors include being male, exposure to certain chemicals or radiation, and some bone marrow disorders.

Symptoms are generally vague and get worse over time.

These can be:

  • Fatigue
  • Frequent infections
  • Sweat
  • Bruising
  • Heavy periods, nosebleeds or bleeding gums
  • palpitations
  • shortness of breath

Acute leukemia – which progresses rapidly and aggressively – can often be cured through chemotherapy, radiotherapy or a stem cell transplant.

Chronic forms of the disease – which usually progress slowly – are usually incurable, but these patients can often live with the disease.

Source: Leukemia care

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