London - Jamie Vardy has slammed claims a breakdown in his relationship with Claudio Ranieri played a key role in the Leicester manager's shock sacking.
Ranieri was dismissed by Leicester's Thai owners on Thursday, less than a year after masterminding his team's fairytale Premier League title triumph.
The Italian's exit was widely suggested to have been linked to him losing the support of senior Leicester players including Vardy.
Vardy has been a shadow of the player whose goals and work ethic played such a big role in Leicester's success and it was claimed he may have told the club's owners that relegation was possible if Ranieri stayed.
But, just hours after Leicester dropped into the relegation zone on Saturday ahead of their clash with Liverpool on Monday, England striker Vardy took to Instagram to defend himself.
"I must have written and deleted my words to this post a stupid amount of times. I owed Claudio to find the right and appropriate words. Claudio has and always will have my complete respect," he wrote.
"What we achieved together and as a team was the impossible. He believed in me when many didn't and for that I owe him my eternal gratitude.
"There is speculation I was involved in his dismissal and this completely untrue, unfounded and is extremely hurtful.
"The only thing we are guilty of as a team is underachieving which we all acknowledge both in the dressing room and publicly and will do our best to rectify.
"I wish Claudio the very, very best in whatever the future holds for him. Thank You Claudio for everything."