It was not long before the first lockdown when I had first seen Alfie Devine (16) play live. Although it wasn’t for too long (around half an hour) Devine came on with half an hour to go against non-League side Croydon FC in the third round of the 2019/20 seasons FA Youth Cup for Wigan Athletic’s Under 18 side, up in Wigan. I had travelled up there on the day of the game to see who Spurs’ Under 18 side would face in the fourth round of the competition, and I was also intrigued to see Wigan’s very talented Under 18 side play. That Wigan side contained Sean McGurk (now of Leeds United) who was also excellent in the following round against Spurs, and a player who I was hoping that we would sign. However, Warrington born midfielder Alfie Devine came on and scored a well taken headed goal after connecting with a cross from the left, following a good run into the Croydon box. What I really noticed about Devine during that 8-1 win to Wigan was the passion and desire with which he showed on the pitch, and also his commitment to the game, and to his team. Devine came on late on in the game against Spurs, which Wigan (they had been unbeaten for a long period of time) comfortably won 2-0. I do remember Devine stopping a late attack from Spurs well during his brief time on the pitch. The then 15 year old player who was a regular and important player for Wigan’s Under 18 side during the 2019/20 season, and who also impressed later on in the FA Youth Cup in a game against Manchester United, would join Spurs from Wigan for the start of the following 2020/21 season.
Not long after turning 16 in the August of 2020 he made his first team debut for Spurs’ first team in a pre-season friendly win over Ipswich Town as a substitute, before the start of the competitive season (potentially Spurs’ youngest ever player to feature in a first team friendly). He made an additional appearance against Reading in another friendly at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium that summer. Devine started the first competitive game for the Spurs Under 18 side (2020/21), the following month, and by all accounts he was excellent in central midfield, as Spurs won the game 4-1. During last season Alfie Devine made an additional 11 competitive appearances for Spurs’ Under 18 side, scoring two goals and registering two assists. Devine also stepped up to make 12 competitive appearances for Wayne Burnett’s Spurs Under 23 side, scoring two goals and registering one assist. His fine form for both the Under 18’s and 23’s was rewarded by then Spurs manager José Mourinho, who gave Devine his competitive first team debut (youngest ever player and goalscorer for Spurs’ first team as a substitute against non-League side Marine), in the third round of that seasons FA Cup. Devine scored a well taken goal against Marine, and he showed great confidence on the ball during his 45 minutes on the pitch, and was always looking to receive it in good areas. The young midfielder also made the bench on two other occasions for Spurs’ first team in competitive games (although he didn’t feature in either of those games). Alfie is the son of talented former St Helens Rugby League player Sean Devine, who played as a half-back for St Helens, during his time at the club.
So what type of player is Alfie Devine? Well the England youth international is mainly a midfield player, who can play as a four, eight and as a CAM. Devine is also capable of playing out wide (mainly on the left), although last season for Spurs he played in a variety of positions at Under 18 and 23 level. For England at Under 16 level the midfielder played as the deepest of a midfield two, where he is capable of spraying the ball around the park from deep, and also pushing forward at times. Devine is a very tough player who is strong in the challenge and tenacious off the ball, but as a deep-lying midfield player he is very capable of patrolling that area of the pitch well, and also at keeping the ball moving in the central areas. The technical midfield player can also play a far more advanced midfield role, which allows him to influence the game more in the final third. A highly intelligent player who has great reactions on the pitch, Devine takes up clever forward positions, and he times his forwards runs into the oppositions box very well. Sharp and quick on the ball, the former Wigan Athletic player who also spent time in Liverpool’s Academy setup, has demonstrated in games his ability to score goals from a variety of positions. Good in the air and with a powerful shot at his disposal, Alfie Devine also registers a good amount of assists. With fine vision for a forward pass, I’ve noticed in games that he has played in that the Englishman likes to try and play lofted balls over the top of defences, to try and put the centre-forward through on goal.
Devine’s passing ability is in my opinion of his greatest attributes, and the weight and accuracy of his forward passes are consistently very good. He is just so confident on the ball and he seems to believe a lot in his own ability on the pitch, which will help him a lot as he continues to progress at Spurs. Devine is also very skilful on the ball, and in the games that I have watched him play he has always looked to take on and beat players for skill, and he is an agile player as well. Just as impressive off the ball, Alfie Devine is a strong and physical player who can more than hold his own in situations. He works incredibly hard off the ball and presses players to great effect, whilst also not being at all afraid to make forceful sliding challenges (he has a good amount of aggression to his game, and he plays the game with real bite). A mature player for his age, Alfie put in some of his best performances from games that I saw him play in last season, in two particular matches. The first one against Chelsea Under 18’s in a league game, saw him dictate the match from the CAM role for large periods of his 62 minutes on the pitch. Aggressive and assertive, and showing his usual great skill on the ball, Devine got an assist for one of Spurs’ goals in the second half, after making a really clever pass with the outside of his boot from a wide position to force an error from a Chelsea defender. He took up wide positions a fair bit in that game, demanded the ball in good positions and also worked very well off the ball.
In the second game which I will briefly write about, Devine also played as a CAM, with this game an Under 23 game against Derby County, up in Loughborough. Spurs were reduced to ten men early on in that game, but Devine really stepped up and put in a very mature performance. He worked really hard for the team, tried to influence the game by making clever forward passes, and also came close to scoring after going on a good forward run with the ball. However, it was his sheer determination to want the ball, try and create and also show tenacity when tracking back in the midfield areas of the pitch, which made him by far Spurs’ most influential player. Probably still too young to go out on loan this season, Devine featured off the bench for Spurs’ first team in a pre-season friendly against Leyton Orient last Saturday, and he’ll be hoping to get plenty more opportunities during pre-season. And with the first team playing in the UEFA Europa Conference League this season, the very promising young player will most certainly be hoping to get a good amount of game time in that competition. I think it goes without saying that Alfie has a big future in the game, and he’s at a great club to continue developing his game. He should be very proud of what he has achieved in his short career so far, and I for one am really looking forward to seeing the former Wigan player play a lot more this season, after having a big influence on the Under 18’s and 23’s last campaign.