Alan Devonshire - England - Biography 1980-83

Photo/Foto: George Herringshaw

Date: 01 November 1983

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      Friday, 13 April 1956
      London, England.
  • England
  • West Ham United FC
    • Club Career Dates
    • League Debut
      Saturday, 30th October 1976 in a 3-0 defeat at West Bromwich Albion (Aged: 20)
    • Club Career
      345 League apps (+13 as sub), 29 goals
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Alan DEVONSHIRE - England - Biography 1980-83

A skilful, aware and confident midfielder, Alan Devonshire probably should have won more caps than the eight he ultimately attained, but his type of ball-playing, occasionally spectacular and sometimes cheeky work in the centre of the park had been wrapped up substantially by Tottenham Hotspur's Glenn Hoddle. Meanwhile, Devonshire's profound loyalty to West Ham didn't help, with the club's Second Division status at the start of the 1980s making him nothing more than an experimental figure. His debut came immediately prior to the 1980 European Championships when he was selected for a Home International match against Northern Ireland at Wembley. Coach Ron Greenwood gave him another go in Sydney as England beat Australia prior to the finals, with Devonshire coming on as a sub for the equally inexperienced David Armstrong. Greenwood's policy of seeing who was bubbling under didn't work out for Devonshire in terms of a squad place, and he stayed at home as England went to Italy and were eliminated in the first round. Though West Ham had just won the FA Cup, they were still in the Second Division and though it didn't harm Trevor Brooking's international standing, many an eyebrow would have been raised had another player from outside the top flight become a regular England starter, especially as England now had to qualify for the World Cup - something they hadn't done for twenty years. Devonshire played no part in the qualifying campaign, concentrating instead on getting the Hammers back into the First Division, but once more was given opportunities in the warm-up games prior to the tournament. He won his third cap against Holland in May 1982 but was substituted by Graham Rix, and a fourth came his way in Iceland, just a fortnight before the tournament began. As expected, he was again left out of the squad. When Bobby Robson took over, Devonshire was one of many players with whom he experimented as he began to establish a new set-up to replace the ageing players whose England careers were dying, if not completely over. Devonshire's fifth cap came in a bad 2-1 defeat in a friendly against West Germany at Wembley, before Robson selected him again for the 2-1 win over Wales in the 1983 Home Internationals. Bizarrely, Devonshire's final two caps were his only taste of competitive international football as England drew poorly with Greece at Wembley before beating Luxembourg 4-0 away from home. By the end of 1983, Devonshire's England career had ended, tagged on the evidence as a player who was fantastic at club level but just didn't do it when handed the chance for his country. (Matthew Rudd)