Romelu Lukaku has revealed Jose Mourinho was the first person to wish him luck when he left Chelsea for Everton.
Lukaku made the move from Stamford Bridge in July 2014 following a loan spell at Goodison Park and is enjoying a strong season in front of goal for the Merseyside club.
The Belgium striker has scored 16 goals in all competitions for Everton, including in eight consecutive Premier League games – a run he is out to continue against Newcastle United on Boxing Day.
Chelsea parted company with Mourinho last week following a dismal start to their defence of the Premier League title.
Reiterating he was not forced out by Mourinho, Lukaku said: “Choices were made by me. By me. Not by them.
“Everyone says it is Mourinho’s fault but it is not his fault because I made the decision. I went to his office to ask if I could go. He was the first one to say: ‘Good luck.’
“I signed the deal with Everton at 11 o’clock and the first text message I got on my old BlackBerry was from Mourinho saying: ‘Good luck, do your best and I will see you next season.’
“He was the first. Nobody knows that and that is why for me he gets immense respect. It is really sad he has to go. He is a great character and a great man.
“Even though there were words said in the media, I never looked at it because I know what he did and not a lot of managers would do that.”
On Mourinho’s exit, Lukaku added: “It’s hard, it’s tough. Seven months ago, they won the Premier League by playing some wonderful football.
“It’s mad, mad. When I heard the news I thought: ‘Wow.’ That was the only thing I could say.”