Delph faces clash between family and country at World Cup
The Manchester City midfielder’s third child is due to be born during the tournament.
Fabian Delph considers himself both a team man and a family man but faces a clash between the two at the World Cup, with his third child due to arrive mid-tournament.
The Manchester City midfielder is delighted to be part of the England squad this summer but is facing a collision of responsibilities, with wife Natalie due to give birth on June 30.
That is two days after the Three Lions’ final group game against Belgium and two days before a prospective last-16 fixture should they top Group G.
Delph impressed City boss Pep Guardiola with his selfless performances out of position at left-back this season and though he is keen to give everything for England boss Gareth Southgate too, the possibility of flying home – and the risk of missing a match – has been discussed.
“We’re not 100 per cent certain, with a game on the 28th there might be an opportunity to fly back and then get back fast,” he said.
“Gareth has been fantastic. There’s nothing more important than family to me: family always comes first and always will. If I do have the opportunity to get back I will, but if not she’s tough, she’s a Yorkshire lass so she’ll deal with it.”
As a Bradford boy who plans to pack a box of Yorkshire tea for his trip to Russia, Delph is perfectly qualified for such a comment.
And although he does not know the gender of his new arrival he will be crossing his fingers for a football fan, given he is currently a minority of one in his own house.
There’s nothing more important than family to me Fabian Delph
Describing his reaction to his World Cup call-up despite last wearing the Three Lions in 2015, he said: “I was over the moon. I was doing cartwheels.
“But I’ve got two daughters, a baby on the way and the missus – and they all hate football. They couldn’t care less. It’s hard to watch it with my family – it’s like an agreement we have ‘no football’.
“If I’m on holiday, I’m doing stuff with my girls, letting them paint my nails pink and all that stuff.”
As for on-field matters, Delph is ready to perform whatever role is asked of him.
Such malleability earned him an unexpected run of games at full-back in place of the injured Benjamin Mendy this season, though Southgate may fancy him in a more familiar midfield slot.
“I’m a team player and I think the manager (Guardiola) values people like me, who pretty much put themselves last and put the team first,” he said.
“I played left-back as a young kid, but not many times and I played there probably one or two times under Gerard Houllier at Aston Villa.
“But wherever I’m asked to play. I’m all about the team, I’ve been that way since I was a really young guy, and I’ll continue to be that way throughout the rest of my career.”
Delph’s admirable outlook saw him end the season with a Premier League winners’ medal and a place in England’s 23-man squad – but it might have been a different story had he accepted the offer of more regular first-team football at a Stoke side who ended up relegated.
“I was very close and not just Stoke, I think there were quite a few clubs that were interested and there were opportunities for me to leave,” said the 28-year-old.
“I worked so hard from a young age, a really young age. All the work that I put in when I was younger was for that moment, to get to a club like Manchester City. So to just give up on it and move on to a team where I was guaranteed to play, it didn’t sit right with me, I felt like I needed to give it one last go.”