Sacked Conte thanks players, staff and fans

Antonio Conte has expressed gratitude to his “friends” at Chelsea for “two unforgettable seasons” which ended with his acrimonious sacking last week.

The Italian’s departure wasn’t a surprise given the breakdown in his relationship with the club’s board over their transfer policy, having seen Nemanja Matic sold to Manchester United in 2017 and failing to land his main targets.

Conte worked his magic at Stamford Bridge after being appointed as Jose Mourinho’s permanent successor, and delivered the Premier League title in his first year in English football.

However, his fallout with Diego Costa during the 2016/17 campaign had far-reaching effects on the team, with new signing Alvaro Morata struggling for form and managing just 11 goals in 31 appearances last term.

Conte’s side failed to qualify for the UEFA Champions League after finishing fifth in the league, and even though the 48-year-old brought home the FA Cup, it was not enough to keep his job.

Former Napoli manager Maurizio Sarri has since been confirmed as the Blues’ new head coach on a three-year contract.

In a statement released through the League Managers Association (LMA), Conte said: “I would like to thank all of my friends at Chelsea Football Club for their hard work and support over the past two seasons which enabled us to win the Premier League and FA Cup together.

“To the players, whose talent and commitment was so important to our successes, I thank them for everything. It has been a pleasure working with them every day.

“To my staff, who always worked so hard, I must say thank you and well done for their professionalism and dedication throughout.

“I have enjoyed my time in England and London so much and I want to thank the Chelsea fans who have been amazing to me and my family.

“It was fantastic for me to be able to share my emotions, passion and enthusiasm throughout two unforgettable seasons with these amazing Chelsea supporters, who will always stay in my heart.

“I hope Chelsea will continue to be successful and I wish everyone well for next season. I have made many memories during my time with Chelsea, which I will take with me into my next challenge.”