Backup to the backup goalkeeper Marco Amelia is the only person in the current Chelsea squad who knows* what's it like to work with Antonio Conte, but even those who had only met the incoming Chelsea boss for the first time a few weeks ago, and even then just for a short 1-on-1 talk, are already impressed as well. Take all-star interviewee Asmir Begovic.
"He seems like a good man - his managerial skills, he is one of the world's best. He spoke in English. The chat we had was good English."
"With the club and everything going forward it is a big summer. We need to recharge for next season. We have goalkeeper Marco Amelia at Chelsea, who knows him and he says he is a hard worker with discipline and structure."
Begovic has the future firmly in his sights. Meanwhile, somewhere far off in the distance, the Champions League anthem plays. The chaaaaampiooons...
"The Champions League is very important. That's one of the reasons I came here. Our goal has to be to get back into a completion where we belong. I came here to help be part of a successful team and win trophies. That's what I want to do and we will see what the new manager brings and the decisions he makes."
Thanks to suspensions and injuries to Courtois, Begovic has started four of our last six games. He made just one start in the previous twenty-odd games. That's obviously not what he'd like going forward, but he seems confident he can have a big role in Conte's reshaping of Chelsea.
"It will be an interesting summer. I am not thinking about moving on. When the new manager comes then I hope decisions will be made and then we can go from there. What the options are and what will happen, I don't know. My goal is to be playing at the club and to help contribute. I would love to stay, but sometimes the decision is out of your hands."
"It's been a good first year, it's taken me to a different level, which is what I wanted. wanted to play for a really big club and have to cope with the expectation. You learn a lot right away. You are at the top and you have to sink or swim and I thought I acquitted myself pretty well and showed people I can contribute and handle myself at this level."
-Asmir Begovic; source: Mirror
As the good professional that he is, Begovic also leaves the door open, Courtois-style, for a potential summer move, but it sounds like he's in it for the long-haul. He may have his weaknesses (who doesn't?), but he's a great backup and occasional starter at the least and if he's convinced by Conte, then we're all the better for having him along for the next chapter in Chelsea's history.
* Correction: Originally, this said that Amelia had first-hand experience in working with Conte, but that's probably not true. Conte was never his manager at club or country, nor did their paths cross while both were active players.