FORMER LEEDS UNITED midfielder Fabian Delph has revealed that he did not want to leave Elland Road when the Whites sanctioned his big-money £9m move to Aston Villa in 2009.
Delph is now one of the leading English midfielders in the Premier League, having established himself as a vital cog in the Villa engine room, while also making waves at international level with England.
The 25-year-old started Friday’s European Championship qualifying clash with Lithuania at Wembley and is strongly pressing his case forward to be a regular in the middle of the park following the international retirement of Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard.
Delph admits he loved his life at Leeds, having attended training sessions at the club’s academy at Thorp Arch from the age of seven to 11 before subsequently signing for the club and making it through all the way to the first team - and showing his talent to all and sundry.
On his exit, Delph said: “At the time I didn’t want to leave. I love the club. I’m a Leeds fan.
“(But) It was best for both of us that I moved on, financially for the club and me for my development.”
Delph says that his play toughened up at Leeds under the tenure of former Whites boss Dennis Wise and he remains grateful to him for his development at Leeds.
The Bradford-born midfielder has also credited Lucy Ward, head of education and welfare at Leeds, for her part in his rise to top along with his mum Donna, who made considerable sacrifices in order to give him the best possible opportunity of making it as a professional footballer.
On the impact of Wise, Delph, hoping to line up for England in Tuesday’s friendly against Italy in Turin and add to his tally of four caps, said: “I remember him (Wise) going through me.
“We used to have youth team against the staff. It was about us showing them what we had. They did get quite tasty.
“Dennis was the manager. I did tackle him and he tackled me back. He was great with me, gave me my debut at Leeds. I am ever so grateful to him.
“Gus Poyet was assistant at the time. He could kick a few people too.”
Recounting his early experiences of travelling to training at Leeds, Delph added: “From seven to 11, I was always getting the bus with my mum. We didn’t have a car so she took me on the bus.
“Once she felt I could jump on the bus myself, it was a no-brainer to do it. She’s my hero. She believed in me, just a great mum, a great role model in my life. She got to my debut (at Wembley against Norway). She never got to the last one, she wanted to come but I said ‘stay at home, have a brew and just enjoy it’.
“Lucy (Ward) was also unbelievable with me. I had great times at Leeds.”