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Monday, 26 June, 2000, 17:53 GMT 18:53 UK
Conte accuses Hagi
Gheorghe Hagi
Hagi's apology was not well received by Conte
Italian midfielder Antonio Conte has blasted Romania's Gheorghe Hagi over the challenge that ended his participation in Euro 2000.

Conte was stretchered off during Saturday's quarter-final with torn ligaments in his right ankle following Hagi's challenge.

And Conte believes Hagi was deliberately trying to injure him with that challenge.

Conte said: "Anyone who plays professional football knows how easy it is to break an opponent's leg.

I have no doubt the foul was meant to break my leg

Antonio Conte

"His foul was premeditated. He intended to hurt me. I have no doubt the foul was meant to break my leg."

Hagi, who was booked for the challenge and later sent off for a second offence, apologised to Conte in the Italian dressing room after the match.

But Hagi's consoling words obviously cut little ice with the Juventus midfielder.

"I hope he reflects when he sees the replay," said Conte, who is on crutches and could miss the start of Juve's Champions League campaign in September.

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But Conte, who scored in the Italians opening group game with Turkey, is remaining with the squad and will be backing them from the sidelines.

"I hope my lasting memory from this tournament will be a victory in the final rather than my injury."

Conte's absence is likely to present Luigi di Biagio with an opportunity against Holland on Wednesday, while coach Dino Zoff is waiting on the fitness of captain Paolo Maldini.

Zoff said: "We have to find a new balance in midfield. The most probable solution is to introduce di Biagio.

"Firstly, however, I want to verify Maldini's situation to see if he can recover for the semi-final. If he can't then I will change the situation."

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See also:

25 Jun 00 | Romania
Jenei plans for future
25 Jun 00 | Romania
Hagi protests his innocence
25 Jun 00 | Italy
Fiore fires up the Italians
25 Jun 00 | Italy
Conte blow for Italians
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