Giovanni Trapattoni has parted company with the Republic of Ireland after failing to guide the nation to next summer’s World Cup finals in Brazil.
A 1-0 defeat in Austria on Tuesday evening left Ireland with only a purely mathematical possibility of overhauling Sweden to snatch second place in Group C, and, after meeting with the Football Association of Ireland this morning, Trapattoni and assistant Marco Tardelli have left by mutual consent.
The 74-year-old Italian said: “I want to thank everyone in Ireland who has given us their support during our time here which has always meant a lot to us.
“We leave this country with emotion because we understand the Irish supporters who have a well-deserved international reputation and they have our utmost respect.”
He continued: “I would like to thank [FAI chief executive] John Delaney, [president] Paddy McCaul, [honorary secretary] Michael Cody and the FAI Board for their support and friendship over the last five and a half years.
“I would also want to thank all FAI staff members, including the backroom team and the players, who have been great to work with during the last three campaigns.
“I wish them well in the future and hope that the job we have done leaves everything in a good place for my successor to take over.”
The FAI wasted little time in making its move, cancelling Trapattoni’s scheduled press conference in Dublin this afternoon and confirming its Board was considering the situation a little more than an hour after the final whistle sounded at the Ernst Happel Stadion.
Delaney said: “We thank Giovanni Trapattoni, Marco Tardelli and Franco Rossi for the last five and a half years during which we qualified for our first major tournament in 10 years and were close to qualification for 2010 World Cup in South Africa after the play-off in France.
“This particular World Cup campaign has been disappointing, but Giovanni leaves us with a group of good young players which should form the basis of the squad that the new manager will use for the European Championships in France 2016 when 24 teams qualify.”
The FAI Board will meet in due course to consider a replacement with former Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill currently the bookmakers’ favourite to succeed Trapattoni.
Trapattoni was appointed Ireland manager in February 2008 as the FAI, with the financial assistance of businessman Denis O’Brien, made a bold move in an attempt to revive the nation’s footballing fortunes.
The vastly-experienced manager, who had won league titles in four different countries, was recruited at huge expense - his first contract was worth around two million Euros a year - and charged with the task of making the Republic competitive once again.
Initially, he did just that, steering them into the play-offs for the 2010 World Cup finals only for France to progress with the help of Thierry Henry’s infamous handball.
Trapattoni went one better two years later when Ireland booked their place in the Euro 2012 finals in Poland and Ukraine after defeating Estonia in another play-off.
But while the opening four years of his reign might have been largely successful in terms of results, his critics grew increasingly weary of his slavish devotion to a system which relied heavily on organisation and control rather than flair, and when that began to fail, the knives were out.
The manager very nearly lost his job in October last year after his side was routed 6-1 by Germany at the Aviva Stadium hot on the heels of a pointless campaign at the Euros.
Having only just survived, he set about the task of blooding a new generation of internationals in the hope of adding greater variety to his side.
However, Ireland’s chances of making it to Brazil - and by association, his of extending his stay further - were always likely to depend on this month’s double-header against Sweden and Austria, and a return of no points from six when his own target had been four proved fatal.