Jose Semedo says the Sheffield Wednesday squad were shocked when Stuart Gray was sacked last summer.
But the battling midfielder says the decision has been proved right by the progress made under successor Carlos Carvalhal.
Former Owls head coach Gray will this afternoon return to Hillsborough for the first time since he was dismissed in June, arriving as senior coach of today’s FA Cup opponents Fulham.
Semedo – who had a mini-reunion with the 55-year-old last week when Wednesday triumphed at Craven Cottage – lauded him for the work he did during his time in S6 and believes supporters will share that admiration.
“We were all surprised when he lost his job,” the Portuguese said. “We didn’t expect it a few weeks before we started pre-season.
“I said hello to him last week. He was tremendous with us and a top, top guy.
“He did a fantastic, remarkable job.
“I remember when he took charge and we were second from bottom and we were six points from safety.
“He kept us up and we consolidated last season.
“Our own fans know what a good job he did here.”
Though surprised by Gray’s departure, Semedo believes Owls chairman Dejphon Chansiri has been proved right by the success so far this season delivered by head coach Carvalhal.
And Semedo is confident compatriot Carvalhal will be fondly remembered by Wednesdayites for years to come.
“We didn’t see [Gray’s sacking] coming but the owner has been proved right as look at where we are now,” Semedo said. “Carlos has done an amazing job. He is a top, top manager.
“He will be in the history of this club, that is for sure.
“Our fans will never forget him.
“I can see him making the same mark as Jose Mourinho did at Chelsea.
“I’m sure he’ll get the same respect from our fans as Mourinho had at Chelsea.”
Semedo believes Carvalhal deserves plenty of credit for the swift manner in which he has adapted to life in the Championship – a task he says is tougher than finding success in the Premier League.
He said: “It’s really difficult to come from abroad and adapt to the Championship.
“It’s not easy for any foreign manager to establish themselves very quickly in one of the most difficult leagues in the world but he has.
“For me, it’s even more difficult than the Premier League.
“It has been remarkable the work he has been doing and the way he has established himself.
“He is a top, top manager.”
Turning his attention to the FA Cup, Semedo says there is no danger of the competition becoming a distraction away from the race for the top six in the Championship.
While the priority remains a promotion push for Wednesday and although they have faced three top flight sides in the League Cup this term, the 30-year-old says the prospect of facing a Premier League in the next round remains a tantalising prize.
He said: “You know if you get through the rounds in the cups that you always have a chance to get the big teams.
“You can then challenge yourselves and see how much closer you are to reaching the reality of the Premier League.
“It is what we want. We want to try and compete against them. “We will do our best to go as far as we can in the cup.
“We have to approach each game as if it is a cup final. We are taking each game as it comes and the manager does not allow us to think differently.”