Fabian Delph puts England return down to meditation, Pep Guardiola and giving up red meat

Delph was named in Gareth Southgate’s 23-man squad for this summer’s World Cup last month, despite his last international call-up coming back in November 2015

Mark Critchley
Northern Football Correspondent
Monday 11 June 2018 20:46 BST
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Fabian Delph believes taking up meditation, ditching red meat and the influence of Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola have all combined to help him win back his place with England.

Delph was named in Gareth Southgate’s 23-man squad for this summer’s World Cup last month and will travel to Russia on Tuesday, despite his last international call-up coming back in November 2015.

The midfielder joined City from Aston Villa earlier that year but struggled to hold down a regular place at the Etihad, with injuries hampering any progress he made under then-manager Manuel Pellegrini.

Delph remained a bit-part player during Guardiola’s first season in charge but an injury to Benjamin Mendy saw the versatile 28-year-old fill in as a makeshift left back during the most recent campaign.

Having adapted well to that new role, winning the Premier League title and League Cup with City last season, Delph can now call himself an international footballer again and he puts his rejuvenation down to some key lifestyles changes.

“I meditate and I have cut out red meat,” he revealed. “One of my pals said that everyone seems to think you are a vegan but I’m not that at all. I stopped eating red meat but I still eat other meat.

“I’ve managed to change my diet in terms of getting it more balanced, more healthy by eating more greens, more vegetables – and I’ve cut out sugar. And it has helped me tremendously.”

Delph’s changes in diet came after an injury-hit start to his City career. The midfielder suffered a hamstring injury in his very first appearance for the club, while thigh and Achilles problems followed later in his first season.

However, since his appointment in the summer of 2016, Guardiola has changed City’s approach to nutrition and fitness, as Delph will happily attest.

“We’ve got a fantastic nutritionist at the club, Tom Parry. And Pep has introduced Silvia [Tremoleda], a Spanish lady, who has been absolutely fantastic as well. The club is just full of these amazing people who give absolutely everything,” he added.

“It’s worked,” Delph added. “I only had a couple of niggles all season which is fantastic for me.”

Delph put down much of his upturn in form down to Guardiola
Delph put down much of his upturn in form down to Guardiola (Getty Images)

The proud, Bradford-born Yorkshireman is also under no illusion that he would be watching the World Cup from home this summer if not for the “genius” of Guardiola and the expertise of the team of assistants working behind him.

“He has opened my eyes to so much," Delph said of Guardiola. "I didn’t picture football like Pep. He’s painted the pictures for me. I’m a very traditional English guy who believes in hard work and dedication and giving it absolutely everything. I’m there to fight and pick up second balls to be that old English type of player but he has re-invented me.

“Now it’s all about being calm and collected on the ball, being sensible in terms of if someone occupies my position then I need to occupy a different position. It’s phenomenal stuff but it is very simple at the same time.”

Delph added: “His management team, they are phenomenal. Firstly, they are great people and the commitment they have got to their jobs is frightening. They put the football first, they put us players first. And everybody has had a role.”

One high-profile member of Guardiola’s team received special praise.

“Mikel Arteta has been so pivotal for me,” Delph said. “One of the reasons I have stayed at the club is because he saw the qualities in me and he knew I was available to do the role they wanted me to do. I’ve got them all to thank.

“I think he would be a fantastic manager. When the rumours were circulating about him leaving I was thinking: ‘Please don’t!’ We get on very well, as do all the players and staff.

“We’ve got a great energy and that energy is similar to what we’ve got here with England. The bonding seems to be just as good as what we’ve got at City. There’s definitely some good energy about the place.”

Delph still intends to fly back during the tournament if his wife Natalie goes into labour as expected. The couple’s third child is due to be born on 30 June, two days before a potential last-16 tie for England.

“Family before anything for me,” he said, when asked whether his plans had changed. “We have home births so I need to be there for my wife and two children, they’re going to need me.”

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