Claudio Ranieri has expressed his heartfelt disappointment at being relieved of his duties by Leicester City. The Italian issued a statement thanking the Premier League champions and the club's supporters for an "amazing adventure."

Ranieri was sacked by Leicester on Thursday with the club just one point above the relegation zone in the Premier League and halfway through a Champions League last 16 tie with Sevilla. Many see the former Chelsea manager's dismissal as unjust – he led the Foxes to arguably the greatest sporting achievement of all time just nine months ago – but Ranieri has nothing but love for the club and the fans, who "loved me from day one".

"Yesterday my dream died," Ranieri said in a statement. "After the euphoria of last season and being crowned champions, all I dreamt of was staying with Leicester. Sadly this was not to be.

"The adventure was amazing and will live with me forever. My heartfelt thanks to the club, all the players, staff, everybody who was there and was part of what we achieved, but mostly to the supporters.

"No one can ever take away what we achieved, and I hope you think about it and smile every day the way I always will. You took me into your hearts from day one and loved me. I love you too. It's been a pleasure and an honour to be a champion with all of you."

Premier League
Ranieri guided Leicester through one of sport's greatest ever stories John Clifton/Reuters

Ranieri's compatriot Roberto Mancini has reportedly been approached by the Premier League champions-turned-strugglers as they seek a new leader. The former Manchester City boss took to Twitter on Friday to express his sadness for his friend, who "will remain in the history of Leicester City, in the heart of #Leicester fans and all football lovers."

Craig Shakespeare will assume temporary control of first-team matters while the Leicester hierarchy search for Ranieri's successor. The caretaker manager's first task is to try and revitalise the feeble Foxes ahead of their tricky clash with Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool on Monday 27 February.