Antonio Conte hails Arsenal defender Per Mertesacker
Arsenal had been beset by injury and suspension problems in defence, with Laurent Koscielny, Shkodran Mustafi and Gabriel all ruled out.
But veteran German defender Mertesacker came in for his first start of the season as Chelsea failed to find the attacking fluency which swept them to the Premier League title.
And Conte was full of praise for the 32-year-old, who showed no sign of rust after so long on the sidelines.
"Per Mertesacker for me is a perfect example for any young professional football player," Conte said.
Per Mertesacker helped Arsenal to FA Cup glory
Per Mertesacker is a perfect example for any young football player
Chelsea boss Antonio Conte
"What he did today was just a consequence of an unbelievable attitude every day, even if not selected, until the Everton game in the squad.
"He played his first game tonight and when he was not selected he worked even harder, which is why I pay a special tribute for him tonight."
Arsenal took the lead in the third minute when striker Alexis Sanchez seemed to catch the ball with his arm, deflecting it over the Chelsea defence and allowing him to nip in to score.
Per Mertesacker was key in FA Cup final Arsene Wenger lifts FA Cup as Arsenal players celebrate Sat, May 27, 2017
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Arsene Wenger was the centre of attention during the wild Arsenal celebrations
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Arsenal celebrate winning the FA Cup against Chelsea
And Conte believes Chelsea paid the price for conceding early on, despite drawing level through Diego Costa before Aaron Ramsey's winner.
"It is not easy but I think that we won the league and it was right to celebrate and enjoy this win," Conte added.
"I think that my players put all of themselves into the game, maybe our start wasn't good and the impact and approach wasn't good and Arsenal pushed a lot. We paid for this start."