Gennaro Gattuso admitted the circumstances that led to his failure to land the Tottenham job “hurt more than any defeat or dismissal”.
It was reported a sustained online backlash from Spurs fans over the prospect of Gattuso, 43, succeeding Jose Mourinho as Tottenham head coach resulted in the club pulling the plug.
The protests were, in part, down to the former Italy midfielder’s controversial past comments on racism, women in football and same-sex marriage.
Tottenham subsequently appointed Nuno Espirito Santo as their new coach on June 30.
“It was a huge disappointment, but I wasn’t described the way I am and there was nothing I could do,” Gattuso told Il Messaggero.
“I am sorry I could not defend myself and explain that I am not the person they were talking about in England.
“I had to accept a story that hurts more than any defeat or dismissal, in a moment when we don’t want to understand how dangerous the internet can be.”
Gattuso left Napoli when the Serie A season ended in May and was named as Fiorentina boss a matter of days later, only to leave La Viola by mutual agreement on June 17 before his contract was due to commence.
He won 46 of his 81 games in charge of Napoli, giving him a win percentage of 56.8 – better than Rafael Benitez (52.7 per cent) and Carlo Ancelotti (52.1 per cent) but worse than Ottavio Bianchi (56.9 per cent) and Maurizio Sarri (66.2 per cent).
Gattuso felt he was the victim in an online campaign where he had no platform to respond to the claims – though he had no desire to create a social media account.
“Certain malice comes from Facebook or Twitter, where it is possible to give strength to any falsehood,” he added.
“I don’t have social media profiles and I don’t want them.
“Why should I let them insult me for anything? I don’t even have Instagram.
“I don’t understand, if I drink a bottle of wine, what’s the point of taking a picture to let others know. It’s my business.”