Former Tottenham winger Steven Bergwijn has admitted he barely even spoke to Antonio Conte during his time at the club.
Bergwijn left for Ajax this summer after a frustrating season which yielded just one Premier League start under Conte, who usually restricted the Dutchman to very brief cameos off the bench towards the ends of games.
Speaking to Algemeen Dagblad, Bergwijn reflected on his non-existent relationship with Conte and the events which led to his eventual departure.
“When he told the media during the winter break that I was going to be important and he didn’t want me to go to Ajax, I thought: ‘OK, this is not the time to argue. Let’s see if it changes’,” Bergwijn began.
“You work hard and fill in well, but you always get three or four minutes of playing time. That’s not what I was waiting for. It was very frustrating. Then I wasn’t the guy everyone sees laughing all the time.”
After the season came to an end and Bergwijn had not seen an increase in minutes, he decided to call time on his career and rejected a late appeal from Conte for him to stay.
“I had no connection with Conte,” he said. “I think we only had one conversation after the last practice of the season. I then went to the director and said: ‘Listen, I’m not coming back. We’re going to find a solution. I just want to leave’.
“[Conte] said: ‘I’m sorry I didn’t let you play much. We didn’t have cup matches and I really wanted to finish fourth to get to the Champions League’. He chose Harry Kane as the striker. I understood that, but I could also play in other positions. I just didn’t feel like listening anymore.”
Bergwijn ultimately returned to the Eredivisie with Ajax for £26m, and he has rarely passed up the opportunity to hit out at his treatment during his time with Spurs.