Claudio Ranieri has said "his dream died" after being sacked by Leicester City on Thursday, just nine months after leading them to a stunning Premier League triumph.
Ranieri's tenure came to an end after Wednesday's 2-1 defeat to Sevilla in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie and with the Midlands club just one point above the relegation zone.
Leicester's decision to part with Ranieri has attracted widespread condemnation and dismay from the football world.
And, in a statement, Ranieri made no attempt to hide his disappointment, saying: "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."
Thanking his family and his staff, Ranieri added: "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 [backroom staff members] Paolo [Benetti] and Andrea [Azzalin] who accompanied me on this wonderful journey. [And] To [Ranieri's agents] 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. 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."
Despite not being allowed to fulfil his ambition to stay with the club with whom he won his first domestic top-flight title, Ranieri looks back on his time at the King Power Stadium with nothing but fondness and said the memory of Leicester's unbelievable exploits last season will live with him forever.
"No-one can ever take away what we together have achieved, and I hope you think about it and smile every day the way I always will," he said.
"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."
— Omnisport (@OmnisportNews) February 24, 2017
Ranieri's departure followed reports the Italian had lost the support of the Leicester dressing room.
However, speaking at a media conference ahead of Monday's home game with Liverpool, caretaker boss Craig Shakespeare refuted those claims.
"It is very sad. The players are hurt and frustrated," Shakespeare said.
"I have not had one problem with them – there was frustration but he [Ranieri] had not lost the dressing room. I am not aware of any senior players going to the owners."