Gus Poyet, sacked as Sunderland`s manager on Monday, has spoken for the first time since his dismissal, describing how proud he was of his achievements, including the "miracle" of avoiding relegation last season.
In a statement issued through the League Managers` Association, he said; "When I arrived in October 2013, Sunderland had played seven matches and lost six, gaining only one point and they were bottom of the Barclays Premier League.
"Thirty-one matches later, at the end of the season, we had won 10 and drawn eight, taking us to the complete safety of 14th position.
"I will always remember fondly that miracle unbeaten run, a vein of form for which I was honoured to be shortlisted for the Barclays Premier League Manager of the Year Award."
Sunderland also reached the League Cup final and won all three of Poyet`s derby matches against bitter north-east rivals Newcastle United.
He said he would "never forget" the club`s first win at Manchester United for 46 years, shortly after victory at Chelsea and felt "extremely honoured to have served this special club as their manager".
This season, however, holding leaders Chelsea to a goalless draw at Stamford Bridge and winning at Newcastle were among too few highlights.
Last Saturday`s 4-0 home defeat by Aston Villa, with all the goals coming before halftime, led to a furious reaction by supporters and Poyet was dismissed with Sunderland 17th in the standings and one point above the relegation zone.
The former Uruguay international, 46, was previously manager of Brighton in the Championship (second tier) and had been assistant manager at Leeds United and Tottenham Hotspur.