Steve McClaren was today sacked as England manager, the Football Association announced.
A hastily arranged FA board meeting at Soho Square rubber-stamped McClaren's departure - along with assistant Terry Venables - after just 18 games in charge, the shortest tenure of any coach in the post.
McClaren's time in office came to a humiliating end last night with a 3-2 defeat to Croatia at Wembley which ended England's hopes of reaching Euro 2008.
FA chairman Geoff Thompson, who said the board was 'embarrassed' by last night's failure, said: "At a meeting of the FA board this morning the FA board unanimously decided to terminate the contract of England head coach Steve McClaren with immediate effect.
"We have also terminated the contract of assistant Terry Venables, also with immediate effect."
Thompson promised the FA will conduct a "root and branch" review of the England team set-up, to be led by chief executive Brian Barwick and which will begin with immediate effect.
Thompson added: "The chief executive has been given authority to identify a new head coach and will report to the board with his recommendations.
"There is no definite time frame for an appointment of the new head coach."
Thompson told a press conference: "Like every England fan, we are bitterly disappointed that we have failed to qualify. I know Steve feels that disappointment more than anyone.
"Of course, we have no divine right to play in any major tournament - but it is quite right that qualification is expected.
"I would like to thank Steve for the work he has done. His commitment to the job cannot be questioned, and I wish him the best for the future."
Thompson continued: "The recruitment process begins now, and we will do everything we can to get the right man for the job."
Barwick admitted McClaren's failure to qualify for Euro 2008 cost him his job. He said: "It was a board decision - it was unanimous.
"I spoke to Steve this morning - we get on very well with him. I've had many grown-up conversations and had another one with him this morning - and I can only wish him well.
"But in the end, not qualifying for Euro 2008 comes up short. Qualification for a major tournament is probably a minimum requirement."
Barwick also denied he regretted giving McClaren a four-year contract.
"The contract is a private contract. I don't regret that now; I think he has tried very hard."
Board director and Premier League chairman Sir Dave Richards defended Barwick, saying: "Brian has taken a lot of stick about him being the sole person (to appoint McClaren).
"This responsibility has to be shared among us all. It's unfair to say he was Brian's man - he was the FA's man."
Barwick admitted the task of finding a new manager would be handled differently to the last appointment.
"The recruitment process for the new coach begins now and we will do everything to get the right man for the job," he said.
"It will be done differently. We've got to learn lessons from the way we did it."
Thompson admitted the failure to qualify was embarrassing to the governing body.
"Of course we feel embarrassed. As we said earlier we expect as a major nation in Europe to qualify for the European Championships and World Cups. Of course we're embarrassed, disappointed, disappointed like all fans."
Barwick offered a heartfelt apology for the situation: "I'd like to apologise to the fans personally. I care about this passionately, it has never been just a job. I'm in it because I care about football, football fans and football teams.
"Last night was a tough, tough night. We care about this very much. I understand we have let them down and apologise for that."
Asked about the financial loss, Barwick said: "To the FA, less than £5million."