Blackburn club captain Ryan Nelsen said he was "devastated" for Sam Allardyce after the manager's shock sacking.
Rovers' new owners the Venky's Group dispensed with Allardyce's services despite the team sitting relatively comfortably in 13th place in the Barclays Premier League. The 56-year-old took over at Ewood Park in December 2008 and, having guided Blackburn out of the relegation zone to safety in that campaign, led them to a respectable 10th place last season.
"I am devastated for Sam," Nelsen told Sky Sports News. "He had an absolutely fantastic relationship with all of the players."
Although the results this term have been mixed so far, a win over Bolton on Sunday would have seen Rovers move within touching distance of a European spot.
As it was, the 2-1 defeat to 10-man Wanderers proved to be Allardyce's last game in charge following a decision which Nelsen feels none of the players could have seen coming.
He added: "Everyone respected him. He took the club out of the doldrums really.
"We were in massive trouble with no money. He solidified us and put us into a top-10 position, and again he did it on a shoe-string."
He added: "I'm just getting over the shock of it. We've got to get over it, but at the moment I want to say, and I can speak for nearly all the players I'm sure, that they will be devastated. He was a very likeable character."
Allardyce told Sky Sports: "I had to pop in to see the chairman and he presented the rather shocking news to me.
"It was obviously unexpected but that's the world of football today. It hasn't really been explained to me and I'm a little confused in my own mind at the moment but the reality will kick in in a couple of days."