Fabian Delph has hailed Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola as “a genius”, with the Catalan credited with having made the versatile 28-year-old a Premier League champion and World Cup performer.
The 2017-18 campaign proved to be the most productive to date for the man who moved to the Etihad Stadium from Aston Villa in 2015.
Delph took in 29 appearances across all competitions, with Guardiola having opted to use him as left-back cover following an unfortunate injury to Benjamin Mendy.
Domestic dominance was secured with a league title and Carabao Cup success, with international recognition then achieved in time to make Gareth Southgate’s England squad heading to Russia 2018.
Delph is delighted with the progress he has made, telling reporters of the role Guardiola has played: “He’s fantastic. For me, he is a genius.
“He has opened my eyes to so much. I didn’t picture football like Pep does. He’s painted the pictures for me.
“I stayed mentally strong, and I knew if I got my opportunity to play I could contribute and help the lads win games.
“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 reinvented 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.
“Pep smells the danger. We’ve got so many systems the way we played. Everybody seems to think, ‘Wow, what are they doing?’ But it is very simple.
“Basically we move the ball very fast, we take as few touches as possible and we stay in the positions, we utilise the spaces and distances perfectly and we have the courage to play out and build up from the back.
“And we work on it daily. Every session we do there is always an aim to it, there is always a reason why we are doing a certain exercise, not just having a five-a-side for the sake of it and fitness work. Everything is geared towards the game and the team we are playing next.”
Hard work has earned Delph further England opportunities, with the man who forged his reputation as a hard-working midfielder prepared to play wherever he is required for the Three Lions this summer as they go in search of global glory.
He added on the position he considers to be his best: “I’ll give you the textbook answer – wherever the team needs me I’ll be there to give 100 per cent.
“If it’s left-back, centre midfielder, defensive or attacking, I’ll give 100 per cent. If it’s in goal I’ll play there – but I will be rubbish!”