This piece is an extract from yesterday's The Rugby Road Gates newsletter, which is emailed out at 6pm every Wednesday. To receive our full, free Kilmarnock newsletter straight to your email inbox, click here.

As part of another exciting project, I had the pleasure of speaking to former Kilmarnock midfielder Gary Dicker.

The 37-year-old, now an Under-21s coach at Brighton & Hove Albion, afforded me nearly an hour of his time, something I'm immensely grateful for. He spent five years in Ayrshire, making just shy of 200 appearances. While quizzing him on other matters, it would’ve been rude not to pick his brains about his time at Killie, how it ended, the team under Derek McInnes and what he’s up to now.

The transcript is too long, so I’ve split it into two parts. Stay tuned for the rest of the interview in the coming weeks. Enjoy!

How’s life treating you at Brighton?

“Firstly, I went in as Under-21s player/coach. I did that for six months and I probably would’ve done it for longer as I was learning loads on the job. I was really enjoying it and then they offered me the Under-18s role which I was pretty shocked at as I hadn’t been there too long.

“I did that for about six or seven months, Graham Potter left, the manager [Roberto De Zerbi] came in and they bumped me back up to the 21s. I’m really enjoying it here and I’m probably ahead of where I thought I would be. I did back myself though that if I got in somewhere I’d be able to show what I could do.

“I’ve learned so much, even when I was still playing, but even more now that I'm finished. It’s been a great education for me – what a club to be at. They’re so forward-thinking, really well structured from top to bottom and I’m really enjoying it. I've got lots to learn, but what a great place to do it.  

“I’m in no rush to jump out right now. I know everyone wants to be managing a first team, but I’ve got lots to do and I’m really enjoying working with highly talented players from all over the world. I’m close to the first team. It’s probably the best job outside of having a first-team job in the Premier League right now with the young players that we produce.”

There’s an obvious Scottish connection in Billy Gilmour. How often do you speak to him?

“I don’t see him all the time. For Scotland, he’s been brilliant but he’s been excellent for us this year. He’ll be the first to tell you he didn’t play as much as he’d have wanted last year, and that can be for different reasons.

“The manager has been on him to help him get better. This year you can see it. I think he’s been our most consistent player, every day in training and in games. People probably looked at him and thought ‘Oh he’s nice on the ball,’ but the stuff he can now do off the ball is good. He’s settled in really well.

READ MORE: Kilmarnock serve up most bizarre turnaround in recent memory

“It’s all good for Scotland as well. The more players they have performing at the top end of the Premier League, the better. He’s a brilliant character around the place. I know him but not too well. He’s always bubbly and bright. He’ll stop and chat. He’s got a good way about himself with the young lads.

“He’s been a standout for Brighton this season. The level of his consistency has come on and it’s a great place for him to be at. He’s played in the Europa League and is in the top half of the Premier League working under two very good managers; one at Scotland and one at Brighton. He’s developing all the time and there’s lots more to come, so Scotland fans have got much to look forward to.”

Whenever the day arrives to become a first-team manager, could you see yourself back in Scotland? Kilmarnock in particular?

“I still watch Killie’s games to be fair, or at least watch them back. I still speak to Rory [McKenzie] and Stu [Findlay], and Greg Stewart has gone back. I’ll always keep an eye on them.

“Scotland? Yeah, probably. I think because I’ve been up there and people down south don’t see it as well. I’ll always encourage some of our young players to go up there as it’s a great level to go in at, you get lots of publicity up there, you’ve got a really good mix in quality of teams as well and stadiums are good. There’s not lots of travelling, there’s a lot of boxes ticked with Scotland. The standard can be bashed a bit down south, but the level and what it is, is good. We sent a few lads up to Scotland this season and they’ve really enjoyed it.

“Everyone down here is ‘England, England, England,’ but if you’re in League One or Two you can get lost. When you’re up there you’ve got the chance of getting to a major cup final or getting into Europe. You get lots of coverage on Sky and it’s a different bubble up there - one I enjoyed. The front and back pages of the papers are not about the Premier League, it’s about Scotland. They promote it well and it’s a good league for me.

“It would be a good opportunity for a young manager to go in. You can see now that there are a lot of really good young managers up there, in the Championship and Premiership. I’m thinking Scott Brown, Stephen Robinson, Callum Davidson and Steven Naismith. I know Nick Montgomery as I did my badges with him. There are plenty of good managers up there, it’s an exciting league to be part of. There seems to be a shift in younger managers getting good opportunities up there.

“Never say never, in football, you don’t ever really know what’s around the corner. For young managers, with Brendan Rodgers at Celtic and [Philippe] Clement at Rangers, it’s great for them to put themselves up against highly experienced coaches.”