Conte pays tribute to 'legend' Wilkins

Antonio Conte wants his players to pay their respects to Ray Wilkins before Sunday's clash with West Ham but then focus on the game itself.

Former Chelsea midfielder Ray Wilkins   -  Getty Images

Antonio Conte has described Ray Wilkins as a "legend" for Chelsea but has urged his players not to get caught up in the emotion of the occasion when they host West Ham.

Former Chelsea player and coach Wilkins died on Wednesday, aged 61, with Chelsea set to honour his memory before the game on Sunday.

Conte described Wilkins' passing as "tragic" and a "big loss".

"It was tragic news for us," said the Italian. "You're talking about a really good person. I was lucky to know him, speak with him many times. He was a legend for this club and an ambassador for football.

"We are sad because it's very difficult to accept the news. We want to pass on to the family our deepest condolences, this is a big loss."

Chelsea's 3-1 defeat to Tottenham last weekend meant they slipped eight points behind their London rivals in the battle for the final Champions League spot and Conte has urged his players to keep their focus on the job in hand when the first whistle blows at Stamford Bridge.

He added: "On Sunday, we must be ready to make a great memory to Ray.

"I think this will be very important, and then there is the game.

"I see two different situations and it’s not right to mix them. We must have great respect for this tragedy and to think then of playing football, to give our best during the game."