John Devine

John Devine came over to the UK to re-visit one of his old haunts Stoke City in July 2013, as well as meet up again with old pal Terry Conroy and fellow Stoke old boys from SCOBA.

We talked to him about what he’s up to these days and found out that he’s still very much involved in the game and even moving it forward to this day. John is also a Full Time coach with the South Dublin Football League working and living again in Ireland, and is helping move forward coaching in the region, his coaching philosophy is captured below.

John Devine

Readers may remember him as an Irish former footballer and manager/coach who played for Stoke City in the Mid 1980’s following a big career with Arsenal and Norwich.

John Devine - 2014
John Devine – 2014
John Devine Arsenal F C
A youthful John Devine Arsenal FC

John began his career with Arsenal along with a number of fellow Irish apprentices (see photo below)

He made 111 first team appearances and a total of 397 games for the Gunners, progressing through the youth ranks at Highbury.

Career Highlights

Arsenal FC. 73/74 Season to ’83 Honours F.A. Cup Final Medal 80 + European Cup Winners Cup Final Medal ’80 + Charity Shield

Norwich City 83/84/85 Honours League Cup Final Medal ’85

Stoke City FC Debut Oldham 23 Nov ’85. Last Game due to badly broken leg 15-3-86 V Brighton Away

30 Caps for the Republic of Ireland. 13 full caps in World cup Qual + European Cups+ Friendlies

He also played in the 1980 FA Cup Final defeat against West Ham United.

John Devine Norwich
John Devine Norwich

In 1983 John signed for Norwich City and spent two years at Carrow Road making 69 appearances and was a member of the 1985 Football League winning squad in the Cup Final.

In the summer of 1985, at the recommendation of Terry Conroy, he signed for Stoke City and made 16 appearances where he made good friends at the club.

At the Victoria Ground, John had the unenviable task of filling in for the retired Alan Hudson and made a good start as on his debut when Stoke beat Oldham Athletic 4–2.






This great photo shows the volume of Irish players who were with Arsenal in the 80’s and the mark they made on the club.

John Devine and fellow IrishMen at Arsenal in the 80s loRes
John Devine and fellow Irishmen at Arsenal in the 80s


John Devine Stoke v Notts County
John Devine Stoke v Notts County

He scored his only goal for Stoke in a 1–0 win over Fulham on 18 February 1986 before sadly breaking his leg after being tackled by Brighton & Hove Albion’s Eric Young, which of course ended his professional playing career.

He later spent time abroad playing in Norway for IK Start and in India with East Bengal. He returned to Ireland to coach for the FAI and government bodies and was later head coach of Sporting Fingal.

Devine was capped for the Republic of Ireland at every level, winning thirty caps in all, with thirteen of those coming for the senior side.

Notably and following his football playing career he worked for 10 years at Manchester United’s academy as the club’s Irish Academy director.


John Devine - Top Middle
John Devine – Top Middle

He took time to chat through old times with other members of the Stoke City Old Boys Association including Lou Macari before taking a few minutes to share some thoughts about his time in Stoke he talked to our webmaster, Jonathan Rowley

“What I remember most is the warmth and friendliness of the people of Stoke on Trent, I was welcomed to the club and felt at home here.”

“While my playing Career came to an end here, the support and friendship I got while in the City was amazing. I’d also like to give special thanks to Terry and Sue, who when I had my leg broken in that game in ’86 put me up on the settee in their house while I was recovering for a couple of months, I can’t thank them enough for that”

“I’ve been lucky, I went on to Coach at Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson and I’ve now developed a Coaching methodology which I am helping roll out over Ireland. I also want to bring this to the UK for junior and senior clubs like Stoke and Alsager to benefit from.”

“My Coaching badges include Pro and Tutor License from Limerick University.”

“Above all though becoming Manchester United Academy Director in the Rep of Ireland for 10 years was my highlight of a coaching career and the honour of working for such a great club which included the best manager in the world in my opinion with Sir Alex Ferguson.”

The Soccer Intelligence Guided Discovery Development Programme

I have designed an alternative Player development programme to the existing competitive junior leagues that exist presently, whereby U7/8/9 play competitive 7v7 leagues with promotion/relegation structures on pitch areas and goals which are too big for the small players.John Devine Playing

This Programme will hopefully get rid of the “Yell & Tell” culture of coaching. This also takes away the fear factor for young children to solve their own problems through the Guided Discovery method of question and answers from coach. This programme focuses on the key fundamentals of the game which are Passing/Control/Dribbling and includes development of Soccer intelligence and Awareness in the young players.

This method ensures the children enjoy the game and have fun, while still developing some quality individual players at the same time. Its main key points are that all players have equal playing time, and progress in age appropriate steps, and with challenges they can handle in a positive environment for their development as young people, and their long term love of the beautiful game.

Many thanks to John for spending time with us.

Senior Career

Place of birth Dublin, Republic of Ireland
Playing position Right back / Midfielder

Senior career*

Years Team



1973–1983 Arsenal



1983–1985 Norwich City



1985–1986 Stoke City



1988 IK Start



1989–1991 Shamrock Rovers



1991–1992 East Bengal

National team

1979–1984 Republic of Ireland



1978–1979 Republic of Ireland U21



Teams managed

2008–2011 Sporting Fingal


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