Steve Coppell paid tribute to Kevin Doyle after Reading secured a vital point in their battle to avoid relegation by holding Wigan Athletic to a goalless draw at the JJB Stadium.
Doyle played in the stalemate despite being told earlier in the day that his cousin, her husband and two children had been killed in a house fire.
Coppell said: "His family had wanted to keep it from him until after the match but I felt the right thing to do was to tell him what had happened.
"He felt, very bravely, that he wanted to play and he was terrific given the circumstances. I can only imagine what he was thinking about before the game.
"He was obviously very upset but I think, in a way, playing in the game took his mind off it rather than just sitting thinking about it. Now he can do his mourning with the rest of his family."
On the game, the Royals boss added: "I'm happy to have got a point and I'd have taken that before kick-off.
"We didn't play for a point because we aren't good enough to adjust our game to the circumstances.
"We do need to score, we've always been quite fluent in front of goal so we'll work on that next week and try to get better."