Paul Devlin has opened up about his acrimonious split with Sheffield United.
The former winger spent four years at Bramall Lane between 1998 and 2002, winning the club’s player of the year award in 1999/2000.
The majority of Devlin’s time with the Blades he was considered a fine player. Yet his departure from the club to return to Birmingham City left a bitter taste.
Born and raised in Birmingham, things started to go wrong for Devlin when he told the press he “would walk over broken glass to come back” to St Andrew’s – as quoted by the Birmingham Mail.
“I don’t remember saying that, but it’s one of the few regrets I have the way it finished,” the 48-year-old told Ingood Nick – The Sheff United Way podcast.
“I had a phone call saying Steve Bruce wanted to sign me for Palace. And they were talking life-changing money. I approached the gaffer about it and he didn’t want me to go.
“Then Brucey got the Blues job and got in touch with people and asked if I wanted to come back. That’s how it started and I didn’t handle it well. It’s a big regret.
“The crowd got on my back a little bit. I was moaning back at them and put the transfer request in. It all broke down.”
Paul Devlin doesn’t want Sheffield United fans to remember him that way
At the time Devlin was an important player for United and manager Neil Warnock. This was shown by the fact that, despite having a policy of only offering two-year contracts, they bent the rules to offer the forward four years.
Having just turned 30, Devlin accepted the £4,000-a-week terms. Yet he says he was annoyed when a week later, Carl Asaba was signed on double that.
Birmingham were a Premier League club at the time, while it would be four more years before Warnock got the Blades promoted back to the top flight.
The move made sense to Devlin for many reasons. But he doesn’t look back fondly on his exit.
“The long and short of it was, I got my head turned,” he continues.
“I had the chance to move back to Birmingham and be near my family. All I ask is people look at the four-year picture rather than the last three or four months.
“It is probably my only regret in football – and it had nothing to do with the club, it’s all on me – the way I handled leaving.”