London: Roberto Di Matteo has insisted it was "an honour" to have managed Chelsea, following his sacking on Wednesday morning.
The Italian was shown the door by Roman Abramovich just hours after the Blues were beaten 3-0 by Juventus to leave their Champions League hopes hanging by a thread.
Rafael Benitez has been hired as the 42-year-old`s replacement, while the former midfielder has hailed last season`s European triumph with the Blues as the greatest achievement of his entire career.
In a statement released via the League Managers Association, Di Matteo said: "It was an honour for me to be appointed manager of a club that I loved playing for and one that is so close to my heart.
"I am extremely proud of the successes and trophies that we were able to bring to the club in recent months.
"Lifting Chelsea`s first Champions League trophy, in Munich, was the best achievement in club history and without doubt the highlight of my career to date, both as a player and manager.
"It is a memory I will treasure for the rest of my life.
"I have a deep and unreserved passion for Chelsea Football Club and I would like to sincerely thank all of the staff, my players and of course the Chelsea fans, for their tremendous and unconditioned support in the intense time I have been the manager at the Bridge.
"I wish all of them every success for the rest of the season and beyond."