Ian Chapman called Dermot Drummy ' a real gentleman' as he paid tribute to the former Crawley Town head coach.
Chapman met Drummy after Burgess Hill Town signed Dean Cox on loan from Crawley after the midfielder left Leyton Orient.
Chapman said: "It's so sad. I met Dermot last year when Dean Cox came to play with us. I had a meeting with him and his assistant Matt Gray.
"Me and John (Rattle) sat for an hour and had a coffee with him. What a lovely man, a real gentlemen. Even though he was at a pro club he had loads of time to talk to us about everything and said we were like a proper Non-League football club.
"I only met him a couple of times but had a nice relationship with him.
"It's just really sad at a such a young age. It just shows in life you don’t know what’s round the corner and my heart goes out to his family, it must be a very sad time for them."
Crawley Town players will wear black armbands for tonight's match with Fulham u21s and will observer a minute's silence before the league game with Mansfield on Saturday December 9.