Antonio Conte has said that he hopes Chelsea will continue to be successful under Maurizio Sarri in his first public comments since being sacked.
Chelsea dismissed Conte on Thursday to make way for Sarri, bringing to an end months of public and private tensions between the Italian and the club’s hierarchy over transfer strategy. He had refused to resign unless the final year of his contract at Stamford Bridge was paid in full.
Reports in Italy have suggested that Conte and Chelsea could be set for a legal battle to determine whether or not he receives his payoff, but in a statement issued through the League Managers’ Association the former Italy coach focused on the positive aspects of his two years at the club.
“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,” he said.
“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.”
Conte led Chelsea to a surprise Premier League title win in his first season in English football and lifted the FA Cup in his second, but a breakdown in his relationship with the board as well as a number of senior players eventually made his position at Stamford Bridge untenable.
Chelsea are hoping to hold a press conference officially unveiling Sarri as their new head coach this week before flying to Australia for their first match of preseason, a friendly against Perth Glory at Optus Stadium on July 23.
Liam is ESPN FC’s Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.