Former Manchester United star Roy Keane has resigned as manager of Sunderland, the Premier League club confirmed on Thursday.
After 24 hours of intense speculation that the former Manchester United star was on the brink of quitting, the shock departure was confirmed in the wake of a meeting between the 37-year-old Irishman and the club's board. Chairman Niall Quinn paid tribute to his former international team-mate.
"Roy deserves huge respect for his contribution and the manner in which he guided the club from the depths of the Championship back to the Premier League. His winning mentality and single-mindedness were just what this club needed when (Irish consortium) Drumaville took over shortly before his arrival.
"Roy's decision to stand aside and allow someone else to take charge of the next chapter sums up his desire to always do what is best for the club. Even in his departure he has been more concerned for the welfare of the players and his staff than himself.
"The board has reluctantly accepted his decision and wish him and his family well for the future."
Keane had been in charge of Sunderland since August 2006. He guided them from the Championship's relegation zone to promotion to the Premier League in his first season in charge and Sunderland retained their top-flight status relatively comfortably last season.
The Irishman had been under pressure recently however as Sunderland slipped into the relegation zone and he had publicly expressed doubts as to whether he was the right man for the job.
In the wake of a 4-1 home defeat by Bolton on Saturday he said he asked "myself every single day if I am the right man for Sunderland".
He went on: "I asked myself this morning and I said that I was. Tomorrow morning if the answer's no we will have to look at it.
"I have to be honest in my assessment. It's not about what's best for Roy Keane. It's Sunderland Football Club. I might wake up on Monday morning and think I'm the right man. On Tuesday it might be different."
Keane's contract was due to expire at the end of the season.