Record-breaking Tottenham teenager Alfie Devine tipped to go “all the way” by former coach
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Not many will have enjoyed Alfie Devine's record-breaking FA Cup goal for Tottenham more than Gregor Rioch.
The 16-year-old midfielder became both Spurs' youngest player and scorer of all-time when he came off the bench to net the fifth in Sunday's 5-0 victory over Marine with powerful low drive into the bottom corner.
Devine celebrated joyfully with his teammates, and after overseeing his development at Wigan Athletic, Latics' academy manager Rioch was another who was quite clearly delighted with the impact of his former player.
"I feel extremely proud," Rioch told Mirror Football .
"On our club academy WhatsApp group we'd already been messaging about him being in the squad prior to the game.
Alfie Devine came off the bench to score against Marine
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"Him becoming the youngest Spurs player is an unbelievable achievement in itself but to get his goal and become the youngest ever scorer is a great landmark and he'll go down in the record books."
But it has not all been plain sailing for Devine.
Let go by Liverpool at the age of 11, Rioch says it took him a while to begin to fully flourish at the League One club.
"Liverpool are a wonderful academy and it's certainly no disgrace to be released by them," he continued.
"He had quite a moderate start with us but really came into his own at U14 and U15 level and grew into the environment. Sometimes it takes a while to get over the disappointment of being released."
Devine celebrated wildly with his Tottenham teammates
(Image: Pool via REUTERS)
Devine first caught the eye in the FA Youth Cup, starring in the quarter-finals at Old Trafford at the age of 15 last year.
And while we have seen numerous examples of players bursting onto the scene only to fade away, Rioch is convinced Devine's attitude will see him go to the very top.
"He's got his own unique style," he added. "He's got the most incredible attitude, and a real drive and desire to be a professional footballer and to have a long-term career.
"He's easily coachable and comes from a great family with fantastic parents and grandparents.
"When you've got all those credentials it gives you a really good platform to help you grow.
Devine in FA Youth Cup action for Wigan against Manchester United
"He can do all sorts, and can play as a holding midfielder or drive forward without the ball. He uses the ball really well, and he's extremely competitive.
"There is no limits on what he can achieve. You can see how highly thought of he is by his teammates. He should gain Premier League status on a regular basis and maybe more. He'll go all the way.
"I've worked with internationals like James Maddison and Callum Wilson and I can certainly see Devine becoming a full international one day too.
"Alfie's in great hands at a club with a great reputation of developing footballers."
Rioch's father Bruce may ring a bell with Arsenal fans after he took charge of the Gunners in the 1995-96 season.
Gregor Rioch has had a big part to play in Devine's development
But Rioch Jr. insists he would have no issues seeing Devine go on to become a success with the other team in North London.
"My memories don't go back that far!" he insisted. "When I see our young players breaking into the first team that's the main thing for us.
"We know once they move on you're working with the next crop, and we've got an exciting group."
The message is clear: don't be surprised to see much more of Devine in the very near future.