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Robbie Neilson has broken his silence on Hearts axe by thanking Ann Budge for the chance to be in charge of the Tynecastle side.

In a statement to the League Managers Association, he said: “I would like to thank Ann Budge and all of the board for giving me the opportunity to manage Heart of Midlothian over the past three seasons. We built a fantastic relationship and I will always have the utmost respect for them.

“My thanks also to the players and staff for their hard work and dedication. I have enjoyed working with you all and seeing you develop as both a team and as individuals. To my assistants, Lee McCulloch and Gordon Forrest, thank you for your unwavering support and dedication.

“Everything we achieved together, winning the Championship, two Scottish Cup finals, a third placed finish and securing European group stage football was with the superb support of the Hearts fans and the Foundation of Hearts. I thank you all for that. I am immensely proud of what we were able to achieve together. It has been an honour to be your manager.

“I would like to wish everybody at the club the very best of luck as they seek to finish the season strongly and build on the strong foundations already in place.

“I’m now looking forward to having a chance to reflect, recharge and prepare for the next opportunity.”