Claudio Ranieri has thanked Leicester for giving him an unforgettable adventure – even though he admits his “dream has died”.
The Italian, sacked by City on Thursday night with the club lying 17th in the Premier League after winning the title last season, has released an emotional statement reacting to his dismissal.
Ranieri says his wish was to stay at the King Power Stadium rather than leave less than 300 days after the championship had been secured.
Expressing his gratitude to supporters and journalists for their backing during what he called “the greatest story in football”, the 65-year-old said: “Yesterday my dream died.
“After the euphoria of last season and being crowned Premier League champions, all I dreamt of was staying with Leicester City, the club I love, for always. Sadly this was not to be.
“I wish to thank my wife Rosanna and all my family for their never ending support during my time at Leicester.
“My thanks go to Paolo and Andrea who accompanied me on this wonderful journey. To Steve Kutner and Franco Granello for bringing me the opportunity to become a champion.
“Mostly I have to thank Leicester City Football Club. The adventure was amazing and will live with me forever.”
Sky sources understand Ranieri has told those closest to him he felt he still had the respect of the vast majority of the dressing room and only had potential issues with ‘a couple’ of players.
It is believed he feels some players had difficulty adjusting after what was achieved last season.
Ranieri failed to mention his assistant Craig Shakespeare in the statement. Sky sources understand, however, the Italian has told friends he had no problems – professional or personal – with Shakespeare, who has been placed in temporary charge ahead of the Monday Night Football clash with Liverpool.
Shakespeare also insisted at the pre-match press conference on Friday that there had been no rift between himself and Ranieri.
Ranieri added: “Thank you to all the journalists and the media who came with us and enjoyed reporting on the greatest story in football.
“My heartfelt thanks to everybody at the club, all the players, the staff, everybody who was there and was part of what we achieved – but mostly to the supporters.
“You took me into your hearts from day one and loved me. I love you too. No one can ever take away what we together have achieved.
“I hope you think about it and smile every day the way I always will. It was a time of wonderfulness and happiness that I will never forget. It’s been a pleasure and an honour to be a champion with all of you.”
It is thought Ranieri has no plans to retire because he still feels fresh and young.