FROM the moment he stepped foot in the Wee County, it was clear to those closest to him that Jim Goodwin was something special.

The Irishman may have entered the doors of the Recs as added depth to Jack Ross’ midfield and a shoulder to lean on in the dugout, but it wasn’t a guise he held for long.

Within four months, Ross had moved to St Mirren and Goodwin stood head and shoulders above the rest as the obvious candidate to step into the hot seat.

It’s a role he embraced from the first second to the last, leading the Wasps to promotion from League One, then keeping the side in the Championship – despite the sort of odds you’d think twice about wasting a pound on.

But, perhaps more so than his predecessors who had gone before him, Goodwin and his players did it playing an attractive brand of football which few outside the Wee County truly appreciated.

Everyone knew Goodwin’s phone would ring one day with an offer he couldn’t refuse; that knowledge didn’t soften the blow when it finally did.

The 37-year-old’s step into the full-time game comes as no surprise to Wasps supremo Mike Mulraney. In fact, he’s been one of his biggest cheerleaders during his stint at the club.

“Jim is a manager,” the Alloa chairman told Advertiser Sport. “He was born a manager and it’s very easy to be a good manager if it’s in your DNA.

“He’s been absolutely excellent and I think people forget he was one of the longest serving managers in Scottish football.

“So it has been a while and it’s fantastic to see his development over the period of the last three seasons.

“It was clear to see how quickly he learnt the ropes as a manager and it hasn’t taken him three seasons to do so.

“Jim’s persona and his mindset has never changed. Not a dot. As with all new posts you learn very quickly.

“He’s the same man from the day he took over and just his experience and knowledge of the role has grown.

“You see that and he has become better at using the tools to get the results he wants.”

For a man who arrived in the Wee County with a reputation for hard tackling, no nonsense football, it will have surprised many to see the brand of slick football Goodwin quickly instilled.

Despite the commentary from beyond the Wee County, the Wasps deployed a style of play that was less hoofball and more carefully-worked attacking triangles, with a sprinkle of exciting wingers on top.

“You’d say as a manager he is very tactically astute and that is the learning curve he has had,” Mulraney continued.

“It’s an old fashioned term, but everyone expected us to play hoofball.

“But, I thought we were one of the better footballing teams in the Championship. As good as any.

“That was down to Jim and it was the way he wanted to play. There’s not an Alloa identity for how to play, it’s down to every manager to decide that and to bring in the players.

“The buck of the responsibility stops in many ways with the manager. He was very lucky to inherit such a good squad from Jack and his predecessors.

“We’ve got a great team of guys here. Many who have been here for a long time.

“For part-time football, we’ve probably got one of the longest serving squads.

“But Jim moulded them in his likeness to play his brand of football.”

One of Goodwin’s great legacies at the club could prove to be his changes to the youth system, which are already bearing fruit in the form of Cameron O’Donnell.

Mulraney added: “The bottom line is we’d have liked him to stay another year, but it was Jim’s time.

“Every good manager builds the whole structure around them to reflect themselves and he has done that behind the scenes.”

Skipper Andy Graham was one of the players to blossom under Goodwin's tutelage, being named in the PFA Scotland's Championship Team of the Season last year.

And the 35-year-old says the Irishman's belief in his players and openness to listen to their ideas was key to the Wasps' success.

"He gave me a lot of responsibility," Graham said. "Both on and off the pitch to express myself and he understood the dressing was the players' area.

"It's a good trait in a manager that he had that trust in his players and that led to the rapport and togetherness we had last season.

"He made the right decision to wait for the right time and just didn't jump at the first opportunity to go. That then gave the group a boost as we realised he knew what he could achieve here.

"It was always on the cards when he arrived that he would step up when Jack moved on. When he took the step back from playing, he improved and learned to see the game in a different way.

"We had that relationship a manager and captain should have and sometimes we didn't agree on things. That's fine and he allowed that to happen.

"You could always have a discussion and he welcomed me putting forward the point-of-view of the dressing room."