Brighton & Hove Albion's Socceroos goalkeeper Mat Ryan was shocked by the club's decision to sack manager Chris Hughton, despite their poor finish to the Premier League campaign.
The Seagulls survived the drop by two points after they recording just two wins from 18 top-flight matches since the turn of the year, but Australian No.1 Ryan defended Hughton's record.
"Shocked to hear of the news of the gaffer this morning. Brought the club success it could only dream of and will always be someone I have the highest respect for through how he conducts himself as a manager and a man. Wish him all the best for his next chapter," Ryan tweeted.
Hughton was at the helm for four-and-a-half years and led Brighton into the top flight in 2017, ending a 34-year absence.
They finished 15th last season but slipped back to 17th in their second campaign back in the Premier League, after they failed to win any of their last nine games.
Hughton was axed a day after their 2018-19 campaign ended with a 4-1 home defeat which secured Manchester City their second successive league title.
"Undoubtedly, this has been one of the most difficult decisions I have had to make as chairman of Brighton & Hove Albion, but ultimately one I have made due to how we struggled in the second half of the season," Seagulls chairman Tony Bloom said.
"Our run of three wins from 23 Premier League matches put our status at significant risk.
"It is with that in mind, and the performances during that period, that I now feel it's the right time for a change."
Hughton signed a new deal last summer but departs alongside his assistant Paul Trollope and first-team coach Paul Nevin.
The club have confirmed that the search for Hughton's successor is already under way with Swansea City manager Graham Potter the early favourite.
Other managers linked with the vacant post include Derby boss Frank Lampard, Northern Ireland coach Michael O'Neill and England Women manager Phil Neville.
Brighton finished a creditable but have laboured in their second campaign, struggling to score goals. (Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru and Martyn Herman in London; Editing by Simon Jennings/Sudipto Ganguly/Amlan Chakraborty)
Australian Associated Press