Signing for a Premier League club at the age of nineteen from League One could be a daunting experience. The expectations alone could stall the career of any talented youngster looking to make it big in the Premier League.
Only a handful of players have been able to grab the opportunity and make the most of it. Some players, however, aren’t capable of handling the pressure and become anonymous after a couple of years.
Fabian Delph, a player we signed from Leeds United in 2009, didn’t have the best of starts to his Villa career. First of all, his price tag of £8 million seemed quite hefty for a player from League One. Personally, Fabian Delph was someone I didn’t know much about at all, partly because I didn’t pay too much attention to League One football at the time. From what I heard, he was a player who, despite his young age, dominated games at times and scored a few good goals from outside the box. The few clips available on YouTube seemed to have backed up that summary and it looked like we were getting a very promising player.
We signed him during the Martin O’Neill era, a time when it seemed we just signed English players valued at £8 million or more. Ashley Young, Curtis Davies, Nigel Reo-Coker and Stuart Downing, to name but a few, came with similar price tags to Delph, so it was a very interesting purchase at the time.
It hasn’t been all smooth sailing for Fabian Delph. In 2010, he had to overcome a really bad injury and nearly became the ‘forgotten’ man.
As time went on, Delph took his chances and he has become a vital part of the Villa jigsaw puzzle.
Here is what I feel Fabian Delph is all about:
To come back from an ACL injury requires a person to be mentally tough. Not only will the rehabilitation and the physiotherapy drain you physically after having the operation, they will also test you mentally. Martin Laursen and Ron Vlaar suffered similar injuries and came back stronger. Just like Jores Okore has to, Delph completed his road to recovery with a positive mental attitude and is now reaping the rewards for the hard work he put in to get better.
When I have watched interviews with players on AVTV, everyone seems to say the same thing about Delph: that he is the joker of the dressing room along with Gabby Agbonlahor. Always full of banter, he keeps the place lively. That’s brilliant to hear and on the pitch he does show that side of his character at times.
Fabian Delph shows a lot of passion when he plays the game. He argues for every foul, sends a message to the opposition by tackling hard and leads by example. Delph isn’t the biggest player, standing at 5 foot 9 inches, but those who play against him know he’ll make his presence felt. He has tenacity, something a midfield player needs to have. He loves to challenge other players for the ball and although earlier in his career it seemed like he had graduated from the ‘Paul Scholes School of Tackling’, he now looks like a players who times his challenges correctly and he wins the ball more often then not. It seems that Delph genuinely cares about the club and its fans.
How many players could honestly say that they would miss the birth of their child if they were fit and ready to play for their club? Fabian Delph did. During a time when Villa were dangerously close to the relegation trapdoor last season, a reporter asked about the possibility of him missing the birth of his first child, and Delph said:
“We have spoken about it and we know it’s a possibility. It could happen as one of the games is about to go on. But this is a crucial part of the season and if I’m down to play in the games, I need to be playing.
Natalie appreciates the situation and is 100% behind me.
I want to see my baby being born and hope it happens. Ideally, it will happen on a Wednesday!”
Delph is vital to our team now. When Stan Petrov’s career was cut short due to illness, I feel Delph went out and made that midfield spot his own. Delph listed Petrov as one of his inspirations, as he said Stan was one of the players who always talked to him and supported him through his bad spells. He said he learned a lot from Stan, who taught him a lot about the game.
Delph’s quickness and his work rate are second to none. I feel that, this year, he has shown that he has brilliant dribbling ability. It seems Lambert has told him to go out and express himself on the pitch, play how he sees fit to.
I can personally see clear similarities between Fabian Delph and Tottenham’s Moussa Dembele: both are left-footed and can get out of tight situations with ease at times. During the Spurs game on Sunday, at one point Delph picked up the ball in midfield, ran at four Spurs players, who just couldn’t get the ball off him, and passed it back sensibly.
I also remember him outclassing Ramirez in midfield against Chelsea, a game in which he dominated the midfield.
Technically, Delph has all the attributes to be a great player. I have always told my friends that it’s just a matter of time before he finally gets recognised as a top player.
As the Spurs game was on TV, it gave people who don’t watch Villa regularly a chance to see Delph in action. Here’s what people had to say about him;
It’s excellent to see Fabian Delph getting the praise he deserves.
Not only do I rate Delph highly as a footballer, I believe he has the passion, commitment and leadership skills needed to be a future Villa captain.
Keep up the good work, Fabian!