England's Fabian Delph on his debt to Leeds United

BEING part of an England World Cup squad may have realised one of Fabian Delph's cherished footballing ambitions as a child, but he fulfilled another dream at his old stomping ground on Thursday evening.

Back home: Fabian Delph. Picture: Conor Molloy/Action Plus via Getty Images

The former Leeds United midfielder made a sentimental return to Elland Road in the colours of England in the final World Cup warm-up match against Costa Rica and it represented a career moment that he will always treasure.

Delph, who pushed his claims for involvement in Russia with an impressive performance in the 2-0 victory, stepped out at Leeds for the first time since early 2012 after returning on loan from Aston Villa. Experiencing a raucous Elland Road atmosphere at the club where he started his career clearly tugged on the heartstrings of the Manchester City player, with the swell of pride detectable in the 28-year-old after the game.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Delph, who picked up his 11th England cap in their first appointment in Leeds since March, 2002, said: “It is where it all started for me, so to come back and put on the England shirt in front of my home fans, it is a dream come true.

“I miss it like you would not believe. It was emotional and a moment I will never forget. I played here in League One and for the home games we used to get 27,000 week in, week out.

“It was phenomenal. I never forgot what it was like, but this was a reminder of how good these fans are.

“My time here was fantastic. I came here at 10, 11 years old and the club gave me the opportunity to play. If it was not for Leeds United I would not be where I am today.”

“I still follow (Leeds’) results and I still keep in touch with people I grew up with.

“Lucy Ward (United’s former education and welfare officer) was fantastic for me, she helped shape my future. There were a lot of people and I would be here all night if I gave them all a mention but I owe a lot to Leeds United.

“I always will be grateful and thankful and, hopefully, (I will) get back here one day.”

Delph, whose wife is due to give birth to their third child during the World Cup, was presented with a personalised box of tea bags by Yorkshire Tea earlier this week, having joked that he would be packing a supply for the trip to Russia.

It was a further illustration of the Bradfordian’s pride at his Yorkshire roots and upbringing, with Delph one of seven Yorkshiremen in Gareth Southgate’s 23-man squad.

“That is going next to the Premier League medal,” he joked. “I was absolutely delighted to get the Delph’s tea bags.”

On a momentous time in his life and career, Delph added: “We are expecting my third child so I have got one eye on that. It is not a distraction but family comes first and, hopefully, I can get back for that. Hopefully, the FA can put a plane on for me!

“Being at the World Cup is (also) a dream come true. I have had a great season at City, managed to win a couple of trophies, and it’s been a learning year as well because I played out of position. To finish the season off with making the World Cup squad is fantastic”