ALAN Dunne has revealed that Kenny Jackett had not been "his usual self" in the days leading up to his resignation as Millwall manager.
Jackett called time on his five-and-a-half year association with the Lions on Tuesday despite attempts from the club's board to keep him at the helm for another season.
Dunne said he had been left feeling "shocked and gutted" by the news, but admitted he had suspected something was not right about Jackett's demeanour over the past few days.
"I was shocked to hear the news but it made a bit of sense – little things that had happened suddenly added up," he told NewsAtDen. "I think he made his mind up over a couple of weeks, I don't think it was an overnight thing.
"At the Player of the Year dinner he was very quiet – he kept to himself. And he did not seem his usual self on the day of the Derby game or the day before that either. There was obviously something on his mind.
"Kenny's car was not at the training ground first thing on Tuesday morning, which immediately raised suspicion. Andy Ambler then called an emergency meeting and we were told that he'd handed in his resignation.
"The club tried to convince him to stay but he was adamant that he wanted to move on. The players were gutted and stunned. Especially some of the younger ones, I think they were shocked – I've seen this happen in my career a few times.
"I sent him a message thanking him for what he's done for me and the club. I told him I'd never forget how he's helped my career. He sent me a nice message back, which was kind, and just goes to show how good a relationship I had with him.
"I'm gutted but this is football and nothing lasts forever. He has been with us for over five years and done an amazing job. He's an amazing person and did a lot for my career. He changed by career for the better.
"He gave me a lot of drive and ambition to succeed in life. He'll be sadly missed at the club as a person and as a manager. But we will move on – the new manager will have fresh ideas and stir things up a little."
Dunne is still struggling to pinpoint a reason for Jackett's departure but suggested the 51-year-old may have simply felt the time was right to walk away after Millwall only narrowly escaped relegation at the end of last season.
"I do not think Kenny was unhappy with anything in particular – I believe he thought he had taken the team as far as he could," Dunne said. "After five years, he might want a fresh challenge. You can get very attached in football.
"Sometimes you need to part ways and go in a different direction. I'm not sure whether it was because we finished the season on a low – I really don't know. But he gave the job everything right until the very end and he was a fantastic servant to the club."
Dunne and some of the other senior members of the Lions squad, including Paul Robinson and Danny Shittu, have already held talks with chairman John Berylson about the future direction of the club.
"We had a meeting with the board," he said. "The chairman assured us that he's not going anywhere and that he will continue to back the club. They are going to find the right man for the job to build on Kenny's success.
"They've got players who are out of contract that need to be sorted out and players who we need to bring in. The club are going to do everything to find the right sort of manager and the right sort of players that fit the club. Those sort of things were brought up.
"It takes a certain character to manage Millwall. The fans want someone who is ambitious and wants to do well in this division. I don't think we want someone who plays it safe – we want to get into the top six and build on what Kenny's done."