Cammy Devlin, the Hearts midfielder, attributes his on-field persona to “white-line fever”, which causes his excitable reactions and seemingly boundless energy. Ironically, those very attributes have helped endear him to the Tynecastle support.
As he prepares to display that unique brand of midfield work at Fir Park this afternoon, Devlin’s mind rewinds to his last engagement with Motherwell. He won a penalty in Hearts’ 2-0 win last month after Calum Slattery was judged to have barged the Australian over.
Devlin responded with a cheeky smile and followed Slattery trying to get his attention while the Motherwell man complained to referee David Munro. He then ruffled the top of his opponent’s head before being ushered away by Hearts team-mate Ben Woodburn.
“On the pitch, I think I get a bit of white-line fever. I swear I'm a good bloke off the pitch,” laughed Devlin. “We had a bit of a laugh after the last game and it will be the same this time.
“It will be a battle, not only with him [Slattery] but with every other player. I'll do my thing and try to get amongst it. Once the game ends, it's fine. He is a good guy, I've heard he is a nice guy. As long as we get home with three points, that's all I care about.”
Again, precisely the attitude Hearts fans want. Devlin arrived in Edinburgh in August and assimilated quickly. The tenacious style of play earned him an automatic starting place in midfield alongside another recent signing, Beni Baningime.
“It’s taken me a bit by surprise. I wanted to but I didn’t just expect to come into the team as quick as I did. Especially with the way we started the season,” said Devlin.
“I was watching it back home and the boys were winning a lot of their games. We were up the top of the league so I’m super grateful the gaffer threw me in pretty much as soon as I got here.
“We’ve been doing really well and I’m lucky with the boys around me helping and making me a better player. I’m trying to adapt as quickly as I can and enjoying getting the opportunity to play and make the most of it.”
The research back in Australia proved invaluable. “Watching the games when I was at home, you could see the pace of the game and tackles flying about. The people I’ve spoken to that have been in and around the Scottish game have said the same thing.
“They said it would suit the way I play. I’m just trying to be myself and trying to give every moment in every game 100 per cent. Hopefully I can keep it up and we can keep winning.
“The changing room is a really good one to be part of. The boys are welcoming but also the staff behind the scenes have all been so nice. I’m here on my own so for them to give me that extra bit of comfort makes me feel at home.
“On the pitch I try to play with a smile on my face as much as I can. It’s my favourite day of the week, I think it’s the same for all us players. It’s why we are in football. If I’m enjoying it and playing with a smile, that’s when I get the best out of myself.”
The 23-year-old’s impact in the cinch Premiership is being monitored by Australia’s national coach, Graham Arnold. Devlin makes no secret of his desire to represent his country having been part of Arnold’s Olympic squad earlier this year.
“Yeah, it’s nice to hear,” he said. “It is just noise at the moment and something I try not to focus on too much because it obviously hasn’t happened yet.
“Just your name mentioned along with the Socceroos gives me goosebumps. It makes me proud. At the same time, we just have to keep performing and fingers crossed it will happen.”
Devlin joined Newcastle Jets from Wellington Phoenix in June but accepted an instant switch to Hearts without making a single Jets appearance. One of the reasons was the chance to further his career and earn international recognition.
“Yes, 100 per cent. I think for the Socceroos coach, the outlook of someone playing in Europe, in a team that is doing well, is really good and puts my name in amongst it a lot more than if I was playing back home. Hopefullly it works out. That’s the plan.
“I have shown him what I do [at the Olympics]. Unfortunately I didn’t really get to play, but there are so many good players about my age. He knows what I am about and what I am like off the pitch and, hopefully, one day it will come my way.
“It's a credit to the Scottish league when you think about players like Tommy Rogic, Martin Boyle, Jamie Maclaren. Obviously Jackson Irvine has played over here as well and they are all Socceroos. I’m sure there are many more. Hopefully, by coming to Hearts and playing in the Scottish league I can be another one who makes his way into the Socceroos.”
Arnold advised Devlin to seize the move to Hearts when the pair spoke. “He played a big part,” explained the player. “We had a chat at the Olympics when I pulled him to the side to ask him what he thought.
“He has worked with a lot of people who have already played over here and played for Hearts, so I just asked for his advice. I asked as many people as I could what they thought of the move and not one person, including Graham Arnold, had a bad word to say. He just encouraged me and made me more excited about it. It is just perfect.”