Claudio Ranieri says his “dream died” when he was sacked as Leicester manager nine months after winning the Premier League.

Ranieri, 65, guided the Foxes to the title despite them being rated 5,000-1 shots at the start of the campaign.

Leicester are one point above the relegation zone with 13 matches left.

“After the euphoria of last season and being crowned champions, all I dreamt of was staying with Leicester. Sadly this was not to be,” Ranieri said.

“The adventure was amazing and will live with me forever. My heartfelt thanks to everybody at the club, everybody who 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 achieved together 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.”

Ranieri’s departure came less than 24 hours after Wednesday’s 2-1 defeat at Spanish side Sevilla in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie. The second leg is on 14 March.

On Saturday, Leicester were knocked out of the FA Cup by League One Millwall.

In explaining the club’s decision, vice-chairman Aiyawatt Srivaddhanaprabha said “long-term interests” had been put above “personal sentiment, no matter how strong that might be”.

The Foxes took last season’s Premier League title by 10 points but have won just five top-flight games this season, and could become the first defending champions since 1938 to be relegated.

They have lost their past five league matches and are the only side in the top four English divisions without a league goal in 2017.

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