Delph defends U-turn after joining Manchester City from Aston Villa
Fabian Delph has defended his decision to sign a five-year deal with Manchester City less than a week after publicly committing his future to Aston Villa.
Delph called off a proposed moved to the Etihad Stadium last weekend and issued a statement in which he insisted: "I’m not leaving. I’m staying at the football club and I can’t wait for the start of the season and captaining this great football club."
But the 25-year-old had a change of heart on Friday and, after completing a medical at City, he prepared to fly to Australia to join his new team-mates on their pre-season tour.
In a statement issued to Press Association Sport, Delph maintained his initial decision to stay at Villa was an emotional rather than career decision and quickly became one he began to regret. Delph said: "My decision to stay initially was purely based on the emotion and feelings that I hold for the club and the people there that I would be walking away from – rather than looking at the football opportunity that had been placed in front of me.
"I’ve experienced some incredible low times in my career with injuries and at one point even questioned whether I would even return to Premiership level. Despite that, I’ve always been 100 per cent committed to improving my game and developing as a player and a person.
"As a kid watching the game on TV and then as a young footballer you dream about testing yourself against the best in the world, to compete for major trophies and to play in the Champions League.
I’ve proved that I can play at the very top level with England and believe I owe it to myself to take the challenge of playing for one of the biggest clubs in the world in Manchester City."
Delph added that he was "immensely proud" to have been granted the honor of wearing the captain’s armband by Villa boss Tim Sherwood earlier this season – but he is set to a face a stormy reception on his first trip back to Villa Park.
In a further twist, Delph later cited the opinions of Micah Richards – who left City to go in the opposite direction to Villa last month – as one of the reasons for his change of heart.
In an interview on City’s official website, Delph said: "I spoke with Joe Hart when I was with him for England and he was always been telling me how the club has come on and what City are trying to achieve – and Micah Richards told me that as far as he is concerned, this is the best club in the world and he had the time of his life here."
Former Villa striker Stan Collymore told talkSport’s Drive program shortly before the deal was officially confirmed: "He (Delph) said twice now that he wants to stay at the club – nobody put a gun to his head.
"He said twice that he believes Villa is a great club that he wants to stay at…if he signs for Manchester City or any other club in the next few days then he’s an absolute disgrace."
Delph made 128 appearances for Villa, scoring eight goals, and received the first of his six England caps against Norway in September 2014.
And City boss Manuel Pellegrini was delighted with the signing, telling City’s official website: "Fabian Delph is an excellent player and I am looking forward to working with him.
"He has made a huge impact in recent seasons at Aston Villa and is now one of the brightest young midfielders in the Premier League.
"Fabian has tremendous skill and energy, and the fact that he has become a regular member of the England squad is further evidence of his progress over the past few seasons. At just 25 years old, he still has his best years ahead of him."
Villa had reacted with joy last week to the news that Delph was apparently staying, with assistant boss Ray Wilkins hailing him for rejecting City’s millions in favor of "700 games and a good career" at Villa.
Frank Lampard, who had himself angered some at his former club Chelsea by joining City on loan shortly after signing for New York City FC, tweeted: "Congratulations and good luck to Fabian Delph, the new number 18 @MCFC. Enjoy wearing the shirt for City and England!"