Elisabetta Canalis and George Clooney

The 33-year-old actress split from the notoriously private Hollywood star after almost two years together in June, and the Italian beauty has now spoken about their union for the first time, praising the actor as "special and important" to her.

In a new book, 'Questo Amore' by Italian journalist Bruno Vespa, she said: "He has been special for me, and very important, just as a father would be.

"Between us there was more of a father-daughter relationship. I was unable to clarify this until now.

Elisabetta also denied she and the 50-year-old star split because of his refusal to settle down and marry.

She added: "It was a great love and it was like living a fairy tale. George is a real gentleman even with his private life. I was very well respected as a partner.

"[We] never spoke of marriage nor of having kids. I don't put limits to the possibility of having them, but neither George nor I had ever envisaged having kids together. The end of the relationship was not caused by a marriage issue, but instead by our personal needs."

Former 'Dancing With the Stars' contestant Elisabetta was reportedly devastated when they split, and stormed out of his villa in Lake Como, Italy, but said she holds no grudges against George, who is now dating former wrestler Stacy Keibler.

She added: "He respected my feminine sensibility and was a marvellous boyfriend and one of the nicest people I have ever met because of his humanity.

"My relationship with George did not damage me. I was with a man who is famous across the world and I will go forward on my own."