Petr Cech claims Roberto Di Matteo will 'always be a huge part of the history' of Chelsea despite being relieved of his managerial duties just three months into the 2012/13 campaign.
Having guided the Blues to FA Cup and UEFA Champions League glory last season while filling the coaching void on an interim basis, Di Matteo was offered a permanent deal over the summer.
A bright start to the club's Premier League title bid bode well, but the wheels soon started to come off at home and abroad and Chelsea are now six points adrift of the league leaders and struggling to mount a successful defence of their European crown.
Di Matteo has paid the price for an alarming wobble, with Rafael Benitez asked to steady the ship, but Cech claims the former Italy international will always be held in high regard at Stamford Bridge for all he achieved during two spells as a player and boss.
"He will always be a huge part of the history of this club with all he has achieved as a player and manager," Cech told the Mail on Sunday.
"It was sad to see him go early like that, but that's football life, unfortunately."
Cech is confident that Chelsea can get their faltering season back on track, with an eagerly-anticipated clash with Premier League champions Manchester City on Sunday offering them an ideal opportunity to rebuild fragile confidence.
He added: "We've ended up in this situation and we are all responsible for that, so we need to put it right now. Unfortunately, the manager is always the one who gets under pressure the most.
"You can see the change of the generation is happening slowly but surely. We have a lot of new players that haven't been here for a long time. So it feels like a new Chelsea and obviously the players are really different players and have brought a different style."