Nicky Devlin was born on October 17th, 1993 in Glasgow. His early youth football was played at West Park United and at Hamilton where he joined their academy. His first professional contract was at Dumbarton in 2009 for whom he made 23 appearances before joining Motherwell. At the age of 17 he suffered a serious knee injury that put him out of action for some time so he went on loan.
Nicky explained, "I needed some game time after a long lay off and I had two loan spells at Stenhousemuir and one at Dumbarton before joining Stenhousemuir on a permanent deal."
Then came a move to Ayr United in 2014 and the following season he was made captain which was a bit special. "I was their youngest captain for over 100 years and we got promotion in my second year there too".
Then came the move to Walsall in the summer of 2017. When asked about the move south and working under Jon Whitney his response was, "Jon was brilliant for me. He had the ability to make you feel you was the best player ever. I learned a lot from him. He was so positive. In fact he's the most positive I've ever met. He was a good motivator."
When asked about settling in he replied, "It took a while to get used to it. I'd only been training with Ayr twice a week on Tuesday and Thursday evenings and I had a day job. With all the extra training it was hard at first plus in England in League One you play 46 games a season whereas up here its 36 so yes it was a big jump for me."
He made his Walsall debut against Oldham in what turned out to be a man of the match performance and all was going well for the player but then Jon Whitney wanted a word with him.
"After about 10 or 12 games he called me in to his office for a chat and told be I'd done brilliantly for him so far but said the transformation from what I'd been used to would catch up with me and he was taking me out of the action for a while. In that spell of games there were some familiar faces in the crowd as some Ayr fans had come down to support me which was a nice touch. I think the Shrewsbury game was one."
During that first season he had a lot to do with little Teddie Phillips and the family as the youngster was suffering with Krabbe disease also known as Globoid Cell Leukodystrophy and when asked how that came about he explained,
"I had seen all the posts online and wanted to do something as it got to me. I got in touch with the family and it was a very special moment when he was mascot for the Wimbledon game and I carried him out in my arms and carried him out onto the pitch. All sorts of things were going on in my head and I wanted to take special care of him."
ISSA organised a special awareness and fund raising evening held at Bentley Moor Club where a number of former players gladly came along to offer their support and Teddie and his parents were there too. It was a moving experience for all of us who attended and Nicky too was due to attend but a commitment got in the way. A lot of money was raised.
Jon Whitney departed and his view on the two managers he has served under was, " It was clear to me that both had a lot of affection for Walsall Football Club and I could tell how much it meant to them as they had served the club well and loyal to the cause, Dean may have been quieter but he did get his point across to you and wasn't affraid to tell you. "
As his first season at Bescot came to a close he found himself in a relegation battle and regarding the lead up to the Northampton game he observed, "As a group of players we all knew how important it was to stay up and to win that game to give us a chance. The sense of relief at the end and the scenes were amazing although in truth Northampton were a little unlucky that day and we completed the job at Bradford on the following Tuesday night."
There was a few words for the man who scored the winning goal at Bradford, Erhun Oztumer. "Ozzie is a brilliant player and the technical side of his game is excellent. He has such a change of direction in his game and of course can score goals."
In his second season, Nicky only missed 3 games and up until the Coventry game in the FA Cup he hadn't scored for Saddlers and indeed at all for some considerable length of time. However it was another emotional day for the likeable Scot. "Poor Teddie had passed away just a few days before that game. I knew his uncle and grandfather were in the stands watching and to get that winning goal was a bit special. I hadn't scored for around two and a half years and all the emotion of everything came out."
There was another goal in his Walsall stint away at Accrington Stanley but this time the Saddlers were relegated and it was the end of his two year contract. He admitted it was still a bit of a wrench to leave, "If there hadn't been an offer to join Livingston who play in the Scottish Premier League I would have stayed. Its always been an ambition to play in that league otherwise I would have stayed there. I was happy there and as for the Walsall fans I got on well with them and on the whole they got on well with me. I have many good friends down there from my time at Walsall and want to see them again one day."
Asked how his season has gone so far at Livingston he replied, " Its gone well despite me being out for over 4 months with an injury but I got myself fit and playing again and I enjoyed playing in that win over Celtic. This lockdown as come at a bad time as I was back in the team. Like players at most clubs I've been given my training schedule to be getting on with from my club and I've got my wedding coming up in a couple of months time."
ISSA thank Nicky for his time and wish him all the best for the future both on the field and in his married life.
Nicky Devlin with little Teddie Phillips who he bonded so well with.