Claudio Ranieri says there came a point during his time at Roma when David Pizarro could no longer look him in the eyes.
Pizarro lost his place in the starting XI at Roma despite being widely regarded as one of the team's most important players.
He has returned to prominence since Ranieri's decision to resign from his post towards the end of last month.
Speaking to L'Espresso, Ranieri said: "It was necessary that the players no longer had any excuses.
"I exclude that they played against me. I turned down €1m out of dignity. In Turin where the feeling wasn't the same I ensured I was paid. Here in Rome it was different. I wouldn't have been able to look myself in the face.
"Both Rosella Sensi and Unicredit guaranteed me [a contract renewal]. It would have been a signal to the team. The rumours surrounding the club made the project degenerate.
"Pizarro had problems with his knee. I took him to one side on many occasions and asked: 'Do you have a problem with me?' His reply was: 'No mister, no problem,' but he never looked me in the eyes."