Fabian Delph - Fans memories of a prized Leeds United asset

He was the prized asset who, for a generation of the Elland Road faithful, was sold too soon.

Saturday, 6th November 2021, 4:30 pm
Fabian Delph.

Fabian Delph was the star of a new Leeds United era.

The academy product brought quality and a natural rhythm to the heart of midfield with quick feet and a wonderful touch to match.

Yet he only played one full season for Leeds United before being sold to Aston Villa for £6 million. He made 56 appearances in total for the club scoring six goals.

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Fabian Delph celebrates after scoring against Brighton & Hove Albion at the Withdean Stadium in January 2009. PIC: James Hardisty

He contribution during the 2008/09 League One season, which saw Leeds reach the brink fall 90 minutes short of a play-off final, saw him win plaudits from the across the footballing world.

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His impressive displays earned Delph a nomination for the League One player of the year, which was won by Leicester City's Matty Fryatt, and helped him to win the young player of the year in the end of season Football League Awards.

Just a month into a campaign Delph signed a new four-year contract at Leeds and celebrated by scoring his first senior goal the following day as the Whites defeated Crewe Alexandra 5-2 at Elland Road.

He followed it up by scoring twice, both "superb goals" from long range, against Walsall during a 3-0 win at Elland Road. His name was mentioned in dispatches on BBC Radio Five Live's popular phone-in that Saturday evening and, as manager Gary McAllister was forced to admit, there is no longer anything secretive about Delph.

Delph's form soon attracted the attention of Premier League clubs and his performances also prompted Stuart Pearce to give Delph his first call-up to the England under-21 squad in November 2008.

Leeds would go on reject two bids for Delph during the 2009 January transfer window. "We explained to both clubs that we don't deal in petty cash," said chairman Ken Bates at the time.

The following day he went on to score what would be named Leeds United's goal of the season - a worldy against Brighton & Hove Albion at the Withdean Stadium. He found the top corner of the goal with a curling shot following a long run. "If he scores goals like that, his value is going to go up. It certainly won't go down," reflected manager Simon Grayson.

Your YEP has asked the Elland Road faithful to share memories of a silky schemer who would return on loan in 2012 where he played another five games for the Whites.

Responses included:

Harry Lawton (@HarrryLawton) - "Walsall game. His first from the free kick routine has stuck in my mind ever since as one of my favourite goals at Elland Road. His second was also taken so well. He was something special in the 2008/09 season!"

Simon Meade - "Best memory when he nutmegged Robbie Savage. He then spent the rest of the game trying to catch him."

Jon Mundy (@Flapper66) - "Swindon away, ran the show for 80 minutes after Sheehan has been red carded after 10 mins. The kid oozed class!"

Player 456 (@BatesyV5) - "A lot will say Brighton away but for me it was Brighton at home for me. When he turned Robbie Savage and left him on his backside. Brilliant."

Rob Samme - "He scored two in a brilliant performance against Crewe."

Darren Bridge - "His worldy goal at the Withdean, Brighton."

Phil Brennan - "Great player."

Rich Barlow (@Richb1169) - "The goal at Stockport from near the halfway line and the time he put Robbie Savage on the floor with his skills, best young un' for a long time. Fabian Delph is not for sale."

Mark Smith - "When we got beat in play-offs against Millwall he threw his boots in to the crowd. I caught one and I gave it to a young fan at the side of me with his dad."

Lance Goodenough - "Basically should have stayed with Leeds . He and we would have benefited. Again another waste of a player who moved. Hopefully KP is never in this situation."

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