Italy have sacked coach Giampiero Ventura after the four-time champions failed to reach the World Cup for the first time since 1958.
The Azzurri lost a play-off with Sweden 1-0 on aggregate to spell the end of 69-year-old Ventura’s 17-month tenure.
Ventura said his record was “one of the best of the last 40 years”.
“I lost only two games in two years,” he told Italian television show Le Iene before the Italian Football Federation fired him on Wednesday.
Ventura replaced Antonio Conte in June 2016, and was described as a “master of football” by Italian football federation president Carlo Tavecchio.
However, Italy took one point out of a possible six against Spain in qualifying and also drew at home to Macedonia.
“I can only apologise to the Italians, not for the will or effort but for the result, which as I know is the main thing,” said former Napoli and Sampdoria boss Ventura after Italy’s World Cup hopes were ended.
BBC reports that when he was appointed he was given a two-year deal which would have taken him to the end of the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia.
At the time, Tavecchio called Ventura an “innovative” coach with “limitless experience” who had helped many players reach the national side.