The ink was barely dry on Cammy Devlin's new contract extension but he was already looking ahead to extending it even further. At Heart of Midlothian he has found appreciation and a home. Go back two years to when he landed in Scotland's capital to join the club from Newcastle Jets and he referred to it as that.

Those two years have seen him emerge as a key figure and favourite on the pitch, thanks to his tenacity and enthusiasm, and off it through his personality. It is a time which has also brought international recognition and inclusion in the Australia World Cup squad. While he didn't play he secured his pension, channelling his ability to nip in and win possession on the field to nab Lionel Messi's Argentina top following his 1,000th professional game.

READ MORE: Cammy Devlin on Hearts plan and love for the club: Full Q&A

"It was always going to be the plan that at one point you’d look to tie him down," head coach Steven Naismith said. “He’s someone who came as potential, the club have done what they have to get him in, and he’s shown he’s improved. He’s now a regular in the national team setup. And he’s an infectious character who is desperate to learn.

“All these things are good. He’s not somebody who thinks he knows it all, he wants to pick your brain and get better. I think there is still huge potential, if I’m honest. The natural attributes of enthusiasm, hard work and energy, he has in abundance. In terms of reading the game and being more disciplined he still has a bit to go."

The early signs from this season are positive. He followed up his brilliant individual performance in the Europa League play-off against FC Zurich last campaign with a one of similar quality in the win over Rosenborg, on a night he scored his first brace in professional football. He has built on that starring role and if there were early discussions over the player of the year so far, Devlin's name would be very, very high up. 

He was at his best against Aberdeen and his presence was missed in the second half of the League Cup win over Kilmarnock during the week after being replaced at the interval.

The stats from this season's Premiership performances highlight his all-action qualities as shown by Statsbomb. Comparing the season so far (blue) to last season (red) provides evidence of attributes fans are well aware of. He is one of the most fouled players in the league owing to a mix of being in the heart of the battle and the ability to get his body between opponent and the ball. He is one of the most frequent tacklers in his position, his interceptions have increased noticeably and he is winning the ball back within five seconds of putting pressure on an opponent more often. 

At times Devlin's possession play frustrated fans last season. So adept at winning the ball back, it was felt he could then be loose with a pass. In the league this season, he is finding a team-mate with nearly 90 per cent of his passes, up from 80 per cent. It could be viewed that because teams are sitting off Hearts more often it is easier to play safe, sideways passes. However, a bigger percentage of his passes are going forward than in his first two campaigns, while he is progressing the ball more than he has done and, on average, playing more into the opposition box. Perhaps he is growing into the higher tempo of Scottish football and what is required of a midfield player in possession.

After all, the Cammy Devlin that Hearts fans watch on a weekly basis is a different Cammy Devlin to the one signed. To explore the 25-year-old's evolution, and provide insight, Hearts Standard spoke to a coach currently working in European football who has tracked the player's progress since he caught the eye for Wellington Phoenix following his move from Sydney. 

"He was the first guy in the build-up, so he would drop off from midfield, take it off the centre-backs," he said, "He was really good on forward passes which was the most noticeable thing. He would make one or two passes then he would break a line or hit a striker. You could see him start to manipulate a defence a wee bit."

READ MORE: Hearts need to end League Cup and Rangers at Hampden hex

That is backed up by data. In his final A-League season, Devlin made the second most passes per 90 minutes with a success rate in excess of 90 per cent. He also featured high up for passes into the final third. Also on display were characteristics which would ensure he could thrive in Scotland.

"Very rarely do you see a player who is perfect for Scottish football because Scottish football is kind of unique in its own way," the coach said. "It’s second balls, high balls, physical, you have to deal with all the horrible stuff. He’s one of the best players I’ve seen on second balls, reading games, getting in front of people to win them. Finding players who are really good on second balls is hard. He stands out doing that.

"You could look at the data but the eye test would match that he was winning the ball back 10-15 times a game. Tackles, loose balls, interceptions. As he starts to evolve over time he is adding in more interceptions, more times he would let someone make a pass and he would cut it off or let someone take a touch in an area and he would come out of nowhere and just steal it from him and his first pass on transition would release a runner."

Hearts Standard:

Hearts Standard understands he was recommended to Hibs, while other Scottish clubs were alerted to his impressive showings in his homeland. The Tynecastle Park side were the team to make the move. 

On signing, then Hearts boss Robbie Neilson described Devlin as a "real livewire", "dynamic" and possessing "a great engine". He has been a regular protagonist in midfield battles up and down the country. Returning to those comments from Neilson it suggested Hearts were taken by his direct, aggressive and chaos-bringing qualities as much or more than his possession qualities. Playing alongside the likes of Peter Haring, Beni Baningime and Robert Snodgrass has allowed him to explore other aspects of his game. 

"He would always be behind the play, keeping it, passing it, moving it, setting up the transition, winning the ball, putting the team forward and being almost the safety net of the team," he said.

"At Hearts he doesn’t need to be that. You can see him playing one-twos, running off of people. The evolution of him when I first saw him, he can now go box to box, he will get into the box and have shots. You’d never have seen that three years ago. This is a guy who has so much capacity for growth and learning."

READ MORE: Hearts' Jorge Grant gives Steven Naismith food for thought

Devlin has not gone unnoticed. He has been on the radar of clubs in Europe with one considering him as an option this past summer as they sought a ball-winning midfielder. 

With the player's preference for shorter passes, it is suggested an area of growth could be his long-range passing, the switch of play and diagonal.

"Just because of the way he strikes it, approaches it and how he holds the ball in front of his feet," Hearts Standard was told. "He doesn’t take particularly long strides to set up a longer pass, it’s touch and then jab it. He hits that so cleanly. A ball into the opposite side space, he doesn’t do much. That’s probably his next step.

"It’s probably more to do with striking technique. He doesn’t take huge long strides the way Rudi Skacel would, the way he would take a longer stride and batter it. There are so many things he has added to his game over the years, you can see how much further he can go."

It was added: "The problem you have got in Scotland is teams become narrow and compact so early that you need your No.6 to hit a switch of play and a diagonal ball. If you are a point guard in basketball who can’t hit a three teams just sit off you and let you do it. If a defensive midfielder in Scotland can only break a line vertically or find the full-back they will sit off you. If someone has got a big switch and diag they will make a conscious effort to close you down and stop that happening."

Now tied down to the club until 2025, and perhaps for longer, it gives Devlin ample time to continue adding strings to his increasingly impressive all-round midfield bow which will see him become a reference point for team-mates and supporters.