Delph: Making the England squad is my career highlight

While returning home, especially if England can finish third, will soften the blow, Delph admitted the anguish of losing the semi-final to Croatia will live long in the memory.

“There was massive belief and the end goal was to win the competition and to be totally honest with you, in years to come when I am an old man, I’ll still be really, very devastated,” he explained. “I and the lads had the genuine belief we were going to win the World Cup, but we came up short.

“I’ll be disappointed for a very long time. I know how everyone is talking about how great the tournament has been but inside it’s at the back of our minds and we’ll be kicking ourselves, asking ‘what if we’d done this’, and ‘what if we’d done that’.We’ll have to wait another four years now, but I am sure with the experience we’ve had it will stand us in good stead for that, and we will set out to win against Belgium.”

Delph paid tribute to the family-like atmosphere within the England camp, and how it mirrors the togetherness he feels at his club. “The feeling I have at Manchester City, the energy and trust we have in our camp, is identical to what I’ve felt in this camp,” he explained. “The energy is fantastic. There are a lot of young players, like at City. Everyone seems to be fearless, going in the same direction. It felt like I left club football to be in club football again. It’s an honour to play for your country with such a good bunch of lads.”

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