- England's Fabian Delph looks back at Russia 2018 with fond memories
- Despite success, Delph admits semi-fine defeat will hurt for a long time
- "For me to get into the World Cup squad was the highlight of my career"
By Laure James with England
Fabian Delph has said being part of England’s FIFA World Cup™ squad is the highlight of his career, but opened up over the heartache of missing out on the chance for glory. Delph has gleaned the positives but said he will find it difficult to reflect fondly until he’s home with his family’s newest addition in his arms. “For me to get into the World Cup squad was the highlight of my career,” Delph said. “I thoroughly enjoyed it.”
Speaking to FIFA TV, Delph recalled his time at Russia 2018: “It’s been an incredible month for me, I’m not sure it’s sunken in yet but I am sure when I get home and get to hold my baby daughter I'll start to reflect on it all.”
Delph took a brief interlude from Russia 2018 to be with his wife Natalie as she gave birth to their third child, and returned just before the quarter-final with Sweden and says he will remain indebted to coach Gareth Southgate for ensuring he’d not miss the important occasion.
“He’s one of the best people I've met in football,” Delph added. “He’s really a genuinely nice guy, very understanding and very caring but on the flip side of that he’s very passionate too. I’ll be forever grateful to him for what he's done for me like letting me go home for the birth of my third child, I am not sure many managers would have let that happen but he understands how important family is.”
While returning home, especially if England can finish third, will soften the blow, Delph admitted the anguish of losing the semi-final to Croatia will live long in the memory.
“There was massive belief and the end goal was to win the competition and to be totally honest with you, in years to come when I am an old man, I’ll still be really, very devastated,” he explained. “I and the lads had the genuine belief we were going to win the World Cup, but we came up short.
“I’ll be disappointed for a very long time. I know how everyone is talking about how great the tournament has been but inside it’s at the back of our minds and we’ll be kicking ourselves, asking ‘what if we’d done this’, and ‘what if we’d done that’.We’ll have to wait another four years now, but I am sure with the experience we’ve had it will stand us in good stead for that, and we will set out to win against Belgium.”
Delph paid tribute to the family-like atmosphere within the England camp, and how it mirrors the togetherness he feels at his club. “The feeling I have at Manchester City, the energy and trust we have in our camp, is identical to what I’ve felt in this camp,” he explained. “The energy is fantastic. There are a lot of young players, like at City. Everyone seems to be fearless, going in the same direction. It felt like I left club football to be in club football again. It’s an honour to play for your country with such a good bunch of lads.”