Fabian Delph: Talentspotter

Aston Villa midfielder Fabian Delph talks to FourFourTwo back in July 2009, when he was playing for Leeds United.

We are part of The Trust Project What is it?

It's always been Fabs, although some of the older lads at Leeds call me the Pepperami Man.

Team supported
I look out for my local side, Bradford. Stuart McCall is a legend among the fans. It would be great if he could get them back up the leagues again.

My passing ability and strength in the tackle are my main assets. I also like to break forward and support the strikers when I can.

I could do with building up a bit, as my nickname would suggest. I'm on a weights programme at the club.

I play a bit like...
I'm nowhere near his level, but I play a similar game to Steven Gerrard; I like to be involved in the thick of the action in midfield, breaking up the play, making passes and getting forward.

Maintaining my place in the Leeds side, given my age, was a real boost. Making my debut for the England U21 side against the Czech Republic is also up there.

I played with a bit of an ankle problem towards the end of the season and, as a result, my performances suffered a bit.

Toughest opponent
Huddersfield's Jim Goodwin was clearly told to man-mark me when we met them earlier in the season and he spent 90 minutes kicking me off the park. When we met them in the return game, I knew what to expect. It didn't help us as a team, though, as we ended up losing the return game, just like we had the first.

Best player played with
Daniel Sturridge, who I've played with for the England U19s, is a special talent – he is outrageously good.

Biggest influence
My mum, Donna. We never had a car and she would take me everywhere on a bus or in a taxi, to make sure I got to my games. I dedicate all my success so far to her, and where she once looked after me I can now look after her.

Biggest joker
At Leeds, Bradley Johnson is always messing about and playing pranks. The worst he played recently was, how can I say this, when he 'left a present' in the bin of Ben Parker and Jon Howson's hotel room. They still didn't know where the smell was coming from the next morning!

I like Arab Money by Busta Rhymes. It reminds me of Bradley Johnson. Why? He looks a bit Arabic and thinks he's got plenty of money.

Gladiator. I love all-action films with a good storyline.

Jessica Alba – ever since I first saw her in Fantastic Four.

TV programmes
I like the soaps, Coronation Street and Hollyoaks.

If I wasn't a footballer...
I'd probably have joined the army. With what's been happening in Afghanistan and Iraq, it must be quite scary for the soldiers' families, but I think it's something I'd really enjoy doing. That combative edge is in my nature.

Tell us something we don't know about you
I used to clean Gary Kelly's boots and he was a generous tipper – I think I got £1,000 in one year. He's a lovely guy and he gave me lots of advice.

What did you do with your first pay packet?
I gave some to my mum and spent the rest on clothes and a Gucci washbag for first-team games. That was a must!

If you could play alongside any player...
Lionel Messi. I'd win the ball, give it to him and he could do the rest. I would definitely learn a few tricks off him.

Most embarrassing moment
I remember a youth team match being called off and, although I had enough money to get there, I didn't have enough to get home again and I had to go begging. Fortunately a kind lady dipped into her pocket to help me. How embarrassing is that?!

In five years' time...
I'll be playing in the Premier League. I wouldn't go as far as saying I'll be playing for England, but that's also an ambition.

Interview: Luke Nicoli. From the July 2009 issue of FourFourTwo.