Conte was in emotional mood as he returned to the Juventus stadium, where he won three Serie A titles in as many seasons as coach, for an Italy training session ahead of Tuesday’s friendly against England.
“I know it will not be easy but I am carrying on in my work,” Conte told reporters, who quit Juventus in July.
“Mennea said that to achieve big dreams, one must make great effort,” he added, citing the late Pietro Mennea, the Olympic champion whose 200 metres world record lasted more than 16 years.
Conte was criticised after Juventus midfielder Claudio Marchisio suffered a knee injury during an Italy training session on Friday.
John Elkann, the head of the holding company which controls FIAT and Juventus, said the Italy coach worked the players too hard during training camps.
Conte was also reported to have received death threats on the internet and some reports said he had considered quitting before Saturday’s 2-2 Euro qualifying draw away to Bulgaria.
“Let us work, we need it. We have not much time, we will do the maximum to qualify, I can promise a great job by all of us,” Conte said.
“Hard work ought to be the norm but it’s an exception,” he added. “I’m told that I work too hard and I don’t know how to respond to that.”
Italy have managed five wins and two draws under Conte, yet the coach has never been far from controversy.
In February, there were also suggestions he could resign after clubs failed to reach an agreement to release their players for a planned training camp.
“We are going through a significant change in generation and we need a little patience,” said Conte, who is faced with a rebuilding job.
“We are trying to build something good and we need to allow players to settle in the national team without being rejected at the first opportunity.
“It was a strong emotion to go through the gate of the Juventus Stadium, entering the dressing room and going on to the pitch,” he added. “There were three fantastic, extraordinary years, with many indelible and exciting memories.”
(Editing by Pritha Sarkar)