Winger Paul joined the club early in the 2003-4 season from Birmingham City. His transfer fee and wages were paid for by Elton John. He was with the club until a move to Walsall in 2006.
Now retired from the professional game, Paul spoke to Watford Legends in 2008.
How did your move to Watford come about?
It was a strange one as I had talks with Watford when Glenn Roeder was manager. I remember being in Terry Venables place with Glenn and Eric Hall which was an experience!
The second time I was away with Scotland on international duty, and I had a call to tell me that West Ham and Watford were interested in taking me. I spoke to Trevor Brooking and then I went to see Terry Byrne at Watford. It just so happened that Watford pursued it a bit more. We sorted out the deal there and then and I went straight in to the team to play Millwall on the Saturday.
Your debut came on the same game as Ashley Young’s debut as we recall?
If I remember rightly I set him up for his goal. You could see at that time he was a very raw talent and you could see that he was going to be a good prospect.
And is it true that Elton John paid for you and paid your wages?
Yeah that was right. I was told to keep it a little quiet but Elton made it possible for me to join. Because of the Vialli situation Watford were not in the best of states financially and so if it wasn’t for Elton I couldn’t have joined. So I will always be grateful to Elton for that.
Did you have any games that stood out for you during your time at the club?
The home and away semi-final against Liverpool was great to be involved in. Especially to play at Anfield and against the likes of Steven Gerrard was special. But I think that to get to any semi-final in any competition is going to be great.
How did you find your time overall at the club?
Yes it was a very enjoyable time in my career. The only shame was that when I signed I was just the wrong side of 30 and got an injury in my big toe. My second season I was blighted with injury which wasn’t great.
Then Aidy and one of the first things he did was to get rid of some of the older lads so I thought that might be me out straight away. But then I got fit and played on for a bit. After a few months Aidy told me he had the chance to get Chris Eagles in on loan and with my age he thought it would be best if I were to move on. Fair play to him – he was honest with me and I respected that.
Working with Ray was great as well. So overall I really enjoyed my time at the club, and the only shame for me was that the Watford fans never got to see the real Paul Devlin. I enjoyed it immensely though.
I think many Watford fans thought that you might go straight away, given that Aidy had brought Martin Devaney in.
Yes Aidy brought him in before I was back fit. But I kept my place and Martin moved on.
There were rumours of bust ups with Devaney?
No I don’t think there was a bust up, I think Aidy just thought that he didn’t need him. I don’t remember any punch-ups though, even though there are disagreements in every changing room every day.
You then moved up to Walsall.
Yes I went to Walsall after Watford and it was the wrong decision in hindsight. I had some good offers from Gillingham and most notably MK Dons, but I let my heart rule my head and wanted to get back to the Midlands, being a Birmingham kid.
The club was in disarray, and I didn’t enjoy it at all and I decided to jack it all in a day before my 34th birthday, which was a shame because I could have done another year or two, but I had lost my hunger for the game, especially after leaving a club like Watford.
However, we see you’re still playing in the Sunday morning stuff now.
That’s right. I play in an Over 35’s league and a Sunday team. The legs aren’t what they were but I get the same buzz from playing, even if I’m now on a freezing park pitch on a Sunday morning. I still love playing.
We saw that you were with Rugby Town as Assistant Manager for one game?!
Yes there was no drama there though, the club was not in the state it should have been and the manager and I spoke and we decided to call it a day straight away after one game, rather than trying to see out the season. It wasn’t the right thing at the time, and it was the wrong setting for me to do the job.
What’s the day job now?
I’ve had a building and refurbishment company for a few years that I am involved in. I do coaching at some schools, and I’m studying to be a personal trainer. Put that with four kids and I’m a busy man!
Sounds like it! Do you still keep and eye out for Watford?
Yes, and I think you will find that most players do.
I think it’s a crying shame what has happened to Watford over the last 12 months, and I was very disappointed to hear that Aidy had gone, especially after the success he gave the club.
I speak to Sean Dyche and Malky regularly and caught up with him as I do regularly, so I do get to hear what is going on. I just hope that Brendan Rodgers came come in and do a good job.
Well thanks for your time Paul, good luck with everything.
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