You could be forgiven for feeling there was a touch of Groundhog Day about the unveiling of another new Chelsea boss.

But as the world's media gathered yesterday, for the presentation of the 12th different man to fill Roman Abramovich's Stamford Bridge hotseat, there was a sense this was not just another day out of the burrow for Punxsutawney Phil.

Antonio Conte has already, by dint of his performances with Italy in Euro 2016, become something of a cult figure among British football fans.

His leaping, rucking, slightly crazy goal celebrations, from the touchline as Italy manager, are what made the headlines – though the tactical superiority, which saw him walk away as coach of the tournament, is what will be truly vital in this new role.

Unusually for a mere manager, or rather 'first team coach', Conte's arrival was applauded in the Harris Suite at Stamford Bridge – the note of support coming from the pressmen of his own country, where that Euros performance was seen as little short of miraculous.

And the first thing to note was that he smiled – quite a lot.

Having been used to seeing the steely serious face of a man immersed in the match, it was slightly unnerving to see him beaming, laughing, cracking the odd self-effacing joke.

Suits you: The new Chelsea Manager Antonio Conte poses with a Chelsea shirt
All smiles: Antonio Conte looked delighted at the Bridge

Perhaps it was a way of dealing with the nerves of being faced with 100-plus reporters, 20-odd cameras, while answering questions in a language he had barely paused to look at just a few months back.

Conte coped admirably in English: slowly, carefully, sometimes admitting he didn't quite have the words.

But there were colloquialisms, and also the literal translation of phrases he loves to use in Italian, which conveyed the passion and desire he wants to see in his players.

He told us it was normal for him to 'suffer' during games, that he was a man of passion and of hard work, and that he looked forward to being able to 'breathe the grass' with his players now he was restored to the day-to-day grind of club management.

He said his own role was to be a 'tailor' to dress the team in tactics, according to the available wardrobe. And he was adamant that it was his primary role to turn Chelsea's 'small flame' into a 'blazing inferno'.

It was immediately clear that this was a man who could write back pages simply by turning up.

And Chelsea like their managers to be news – so long as it is good news, of course.

Antonio Conte's Chelsea unveiling in pictures:

But whereas this job has attracted men with a certain way with words in the past, this was not the malapropisms of Claudio Ranieri, who he described as a 'lovely man', or the inflated ego of Jose Mourinho, who he said was not a rival – for rivalries should be played out on the pitch, and not in the technical area.

It was something different: softly spoken, considered, almost deliberate.

He was asked all manner of questions, and ducked only the ones he said were private between he and his players, or he and the club.

If you thought us English hacks asked off-the-wall stuff, you were in for a treat when an Italian journalist demanded to know Conte's opinion on Brexit - he said he wanted to represent his home nation well in his newly adopted one.

Following-on from The Special One, The Tinkerman, and suchlike, there was an inevitable attempt to get him to announce his own title – something many will be pleased he declined to do.

Conte said he was sure those assembled would come up with their own fitting nickname, based on what they saw over the coming season.

Later, when the crowds had dissipated, and he sat down with a smaller group of back-page scribes, some of those nerves seemed to evaporate.

Watch Antonio Conte's first words as new Chelsea manager:

Video thumbnail, Antonio Conte speaks for the first time as Chelsea manager
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With the cameras off, there was perhaps a better view of the real Conte we may get to know – serious about the game, keen to pass on his philosophy.

As this closed I approached him with a friendly handshake, and a traditional Italian wish of good fortune.

Akin to the English theatre-land expression, 'break a leg', I offered: “In bocca al lupo.” ('In the mouth of the wolf').

It comes from the days when men were hunters, and is meant to provoke an image of one who can beat any possible odds.

There is only one permitted response, 'Crepi il lupo' ('May the wolf die'), and he fired this back with a friendly smile, and a firmly pressed hand.

Antonio Conte: man of tactics, and of passion; starter of fires, and sufferer of matches; tailor of teams, and slayer of wolves – there is already the feeling that this is no ordinary Chelsea boss.

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