AVILLAFAN XI (1990-Present) – RIGHT BACK
Mark Delaney – 58%
Earl Barrett – 32%
Gary Charles- 10%
D.O.B. – 13th May 1976
Nationality – Wales
Aston Villa (1999-2007)
Appearances – 185 (Competitive)
Goals – 2
Mark Delaney was signed by Aston Villa in 1999 for just £500,000 from Cardiff City.
The Welshman had already enjoyed an impressive time as a youngster, being part of the youth system at Manchester United before joining Carmarthen Town in 1996.
It didn’t take long for people within the club to see the abilities he possessed and he was made club captain of the League of Wales side at only 20 years of age.
Delaney adapted quickly to life at Cardiff City and became a regular throughout his first professional season at Ninian Park.
It only took a month from the day that Delaney had signed for Villa for him to be awarded with his Premier League debut. Coming on late to replace Steve Stone in a 3–1 win over Nottingham Forest.
Despite this early run out, he would feature in only one more appearance for the club during the closing stages of the 1998–99 season, but this period was all about the step up, learning and growing into a Premier League player.
After a first full pre-season with Villa, manager John Gregory promoted Delaney to the first team as the main right-back over the experienced Steve Watson.
As with many other players, John Gregory got a lot out of Delaney but this didn’t mean he could merely cruise through games.
Delaney would experience the honest and open approach of Gregory during an encounter against Watford.
Having been told he had been “playing like a tart” during the half-time team talk, Delaney led by example in the second half in helping contribute towards not only a clean sheet but also going on to score the only goal of the game.
His season at Villa Park, was definitely a successful one as Aston Villa finished in 6th in the league, reached the semi-final of the League Cup and most notably they also reached the final of the FA Cup.
The final F.A. Cup at the original Wembley Stadium.
In the semi final, Villa would struggle to get past second tier side Bolton Wanderers in a game that went to extra time and penalties.
Delaney himself was sent off in extra time for two bookings within a matter of minutes.
However, the penalty shootout victory meant that Aston Villa would be playing in their first F.A. Cup final since the 1957 win over Manchester United.
Delaney would play the entire final but Villa lost 1–0 to Chelsea in a mostly forgettable match.
He would go on to make 185 competitive appearances for Aston Villa in all competitions, with two goals coming against Watford on 24 August 1999 and Everton on 26 December 2005.
He was also a part of the side that won the Uefa Intertoto Cup which was introduced as a potential route to qualify for the UEFA Cup.
During his career, Delaney gained 36 international caps for Wales, becoming a firm fixture in their team.
Unfortunately, despite his exploits at Villa it has always felt like a ‘what could have been’ story as he unfortunately suffered from numerous bad knee injuries.
Delaney, himself pointed out this was probably down to his commitment to flying into tackles throughout his youth career and right through his time at professional level.
Delaney traveled to see a knee specialist in America seen by many as one of the best in the world in the hopes that he could put the injuries behind him.
However, after surgery, it was confirmed that Delaney would more than likely not be able to return to playing football professionally.
Out of contract at Aston Villa in summer 2007, he vowed to fight on to try and win a new contract under new boss Martin O’Neill.
However, on 15 August 2007, he announced his retirement from football due to the injuries suffered at just 31 years old.
Mark Delaney’s time at Villa would soon continue though as in December 2007 he began his coaching career at the club he had put so much time into.
Currently, Delaney is the manager of the U23 side which in recent years has helped to produce the likes of Jack Grealish, Keinan Davis and Callum O’Hare amongst others.