London (AFP) – Claudio Ranieri said on Friday he had dreamt of staying at Leicester City “for always” before being ruthlessly sacked as manager of the troubled champions.
Ranieri was stunningly dismissed by Leicester’s Thai owners on Thursday, less than a year after guiding the 5,000-1 outsiders to the Premier League title.
Leicester are languishing one point above the relegation zone with 13 games remaining amid reports of player unrest at Ranieri’s tactical tinkering.
But Ranieri’s sacking triggered an outpouring of support for the Italian from his fellow managers and he admitted the decision was a brutal blow.
“Yesterday my dream died,” Ranieri said.
“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.”
Ranieri thanked his wife Rosanna, his family and his agents, Steve Kutner and Franco Granello, for “bringing me the opportunity to become a champion”.
The former Chelsea boss also added his appreciation for backroom staff members Paolo Benetti and Andrea Azzalin, who departed with him, but he declined to mention Craig Shakespeare, the assistant who was rumoured to have fallen out with him in recent weeks.
Ranieri, who arrived at the King Power Stadium in 2015, will go down as the most important figure in Leicester’s previously unheralded history and he paid tribute to everyone who accompanied him on the club’s incredible rags to riches rise.
“Mostly I have to thank Leicester City Football Club. The adventure was amazing and will live with me forever,” 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, and 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.”
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