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Exclusive Feature: Delph on why football will come before family

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Exclusive Feature: Delph on why football will come before family


As he has proved on numerous occasions, Fabian Delph's work ethic is beyond question.

And he is prepared to make a massive personal sacrifice to play his part in ensuring Villa's continued residence in the Barclays Premier League.

The 23-year-old Yorkshireman would like nothing more than to be present when his girlfriend Natalie gives birth to their first child, due early next month.

But he is ready to forego that magical moment if the arrival of Baby Delph coincides with any of Villa's remaining fixtures.

"We have spoken about it and we know it's a possibility it could happen when one of the games is about to go on," he says.

"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 per cent behind me.

"I want to see my baby being born and I hope it happens. Ideally it will happen on a Wednesday!"

Delph has already underlined his commitment to the claret-and-blue cause by producing an outstanding display in the 3-1 win at Stoke, despite having been unwell the previous night.

"I only had about three hours' sleep," he reveals. "But I was determined to play. When I got through the game it was the greatest feeling I've had in football.

"I felt I did a job for the team. It wasn't a game that was nice on the eye; it was more of a battle. But I thought I stood up to it and we managed to get the win.

"When I was at Leeds, most of the games in League One were like that so I enjoyed the battle. We gelled well and came through it."

Delph's successful return to the starting line-up underlined his increasing value to the team.

He was bitterly disappointed to miss the back-to-back victories over Reading and QPR through suspension, and had to settle for a substitute appearance on his return against Liverpool.

But the two-game ban for accumulating 10 bookings won't alter his determined approach.

"I think some of the bookings I had were a bit harsh," he claims.

"I've always been tenacious and tried to win the ball, that's just in my nature. If the manager was saying I had to curb it, that's what I would do, but he always encourages us to be competitive.

"I was desperate to start against Liverpool, although there was no doubt in mind that I wouldn't, because the boys had been fantastic in the previous two games.

"It was good to be involved again but I don't have my best games coming off the bench and I was a bit disappointed with how it went.

"During training the following week I made sure I ran that extra yard in training to get my fitness levels up and it paid off at Stoke.

"Some players like coming off the bench because they can offer fresh legs but I would rather be on from the start."

Fabian Delph

Although there are only five games to go, and most of us will be relieved to reach the finishing line with our top flight status intact, Fabian would be happy for the season to run and run.

His progress has been disrupted by injuries since he signed from Leeds in 2009, limiting him to 45 starts and 15 sub appearances but he is now establishing himself as a regular in the side.

"It's disappointing to hear those stats, although I've been injured for about two-and-a-half years since I've been here.

"Getting injured seems to be the story of my career with Villa. This season, luckily, I've managed to stay injury-free, even if I've missed games through suspension.

"I've been in and out since the start, but to be honest I would like the season to go on for another eight months now I'm back.

"But I've had no complaints when I've been left out. Modern-day football is a squad game and it's about taking your opportunities when you get them. Luckily I've managed to stay in for a run of games."

Although he was born in Bradford, and was with the Valley Parade club as a junior, Delph has no affection for his hometown club, which made Villa's Capital One Cup semi-final defeat by the Bantams all the more painful.

"Getting beat by them was the lowest point in my career. We had a great opportunity to get to Wembley, and we might never get there again, so it was a massive disappointment.

"What was more disappointing was how we played against Manchester City and Norwich in the earlier rounds. Then we thought we had the luck of the draw when we were paired with Bradford but it didn't happen."

That is now very much in the past, however.

For immediate future, Fabian's focus is aimed solely at helping Villa stay up.

"A lot of the players have come from lower divisions, and we know what it's like to play there," he points out.

"Nobody wants to go back. We all have the desire to stay in this league and we will keep pushing for it in every game.

"The boys are positive. We're all young but we're not fazed by much, and the fans have been brilliant. They have been really supportive and patient."

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AVFC Official
By @AVFCOfficial 16th April 2013
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