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Antonio Conte has spoken for the first time since being sacked by Chelsea.
Conte was sacked last week with the club appointing Maurizio Sarri as his successor less than 24 hours later.
Despite leading the club to the Premier League title in his first season in charge and the FA Cup in May, the Italian's departure had been widely expected after missing out on the Champions League.
Speaking in a statement released via the League Manager's Association, Conte thanked the players and fans for making his feel welcome at Stamford Bridge.
"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.”
LMA Chief Executive Richard Bevan added: “Antonio made an immediate impact when he arrived in the Premier League two years ago. His energy and enthusiasm for football has been infectious and it has been a privilege to have one of the best coaches in the world working in the Premier League to raise the standard of the league and his players at Chelsea.
“His record as a manager speaks for itself, with a record-breaking Premier League season and FA Cup title to look back on with pride. Antonio is hugely respected by his peers within the English game, who voted him as LMA Manager of the Year in 2017.
“We have no doubt that Antonio will go on to achieve many more successes in his career.”
Chelsea face Premier League champions Manchester City in the FA Community Shield on Sunday, 5 August, live on BT Sport on the eir sport pack.
Image: Getty Images/Ian MacNicol
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