Claudio Ranieri: Jamie Vardy says speculation over manager's sacking 'untrue'
Leicester striker Jamie Vardy says speculation that he was involved in manager Claudio Ranieri's dismissal is "untrue and extremely hurtful".
Ranieri was sacked on Thursday, nine months after leading the club to the Premier League title.
Caretaker manager Craig Shakespeare previously denied a player revolt had led to Ranieri's dismissal.
"Claudio has and always will have my complete respect," Vardy said in a post on Instagram.
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"There is speculation I was involved in his dismissal and this is 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."
Last season's champions dropped into the relegation zone on Saturday following Crystal Palace's win over Middlesbrough.
Vardy scored 24 goals as the Foxes secured an unlikely Premier League title in 2015-16, but the striker has struggled this season.
He ended a nine-game goal drought during Leicester's 2-1 Champions League loss at Sevilla, which proved to be Ranieri's last match in charge.
"He believed in me when many didn't and for that I owe him my eternal gratitude," former Fleetwood striker Vardy wrote.
"I wish Claudio the very, very best in whatever the future holds for him. Thank you Claudio for everything."
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Former England captain Alan Shearer said: "I didn't need the sacking of Ranieri to tell me the players weren't working for him. I could see it. I've been saying it for the last two or three months, that the players just weren't working for him.
"I would say to the Leicester players, if you look in the mirror and ask yourself a question - have I worked as hard as I could and given the manager everything? I would pretty much say, for the vast majority of that Leicester squad, the answer would be no. They could do more, I'm certain of that.
"Fans will get over it, I'm sure. We saw what happened with Chelsea when Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas were booed after half an hour and then Chelsea go and score goals and get back to winning ways. Fans soon forget. However, you will never ever forget what happened last season. That was the best thing that has happened and will ever happen, in the Premier League, a team achieving what like Leicester did."
Former Tottenham midfielder Jermaine Jenas said: "The timing is ludicrous. They've just gone to Seville and in the second half they were back to their best defensively. Give Claudio Ranieri the chance to keep them in the Premier League."
'You believed in me' - Players thank Ranieri
BBC Sport understands some players were summoned to meet the chairman after the 2-1 loss to Sevilla and Ranieri's fate was sealed by the negative reaction.
"Big respect to this great man who helped us achieve history, you helped me build myself as a player and gave me the courage I needed," forward Riyad Mahrez wrote on Twitter.
"You believed in me from day one. Huge thank you for everything and good luck."
"My Leicester career was over, he believed in me and gave me a chance. That's something else I will also never forget," defender Danny Simpson added.
"I wish him luck for the future and I had the opportunity to say this today, however we really need the true Leicester fans to be with us and not against us through this tough period, starting on Monday night.
"What's happened has happened and we have to move on and stay in the Premier League."