FORMER Leeds United midfielder Fabian Delph believes the “sky is the limit” for England’s current group of players.
Gareth Southgate’s men are basking in the afterglow of a superb 2018, having reached the inaugural Nations League Finals on the back of their remarkable run to the World Cup semi-finals.
England have flown up the world rankings over the course of the year and proven themselves one of the best teams around, having won 3-2 in Spain last month and come from behind to see off Croatia 2-1 on Sunday.
“It was amazing,” said Delph after the Wembley triumph on Sunday afternoon. “We’ve been speaking about it in the dressing room, it’s been an amazing 12-18 months - we’ve come a long way.
“(Sunday) was a great result for us, especially after coming up short in the World Cup.
“You always look at those games and think ‘if we get the opportunity to play that team again, hopefully we can put it right’ and I felt like we did that (against Croatia).
“Thinking about it now, I am glad (we went behind) because it has shown a lot of character. We’re only a young team so to see the lads with the character they had in the game was really impressive.
“We’ve got more than enough in the dressing room to win the game, so going a goal behind we didn’t panic. To be honest, I thought we should have wrapped up the game in the first half but we never did.
“We said we’d keep getting chances and thankfully we did and we’ve got the win.”
Having captained his country for the first time in Thursday’s 3-0 friendly win against the United States, Delph – who left Leeds for Aston Villa in August 2009 for around £6m – shone in an all-action midfield display against Croatia.
We’ve developed, everybody seems to be following and going in the same direction and the sky is the limit for this group of players because they’re still so young and they’ve still got plenty of time to develop.England midfielder Fabian Delph
Those key roles highlight just how much Southgate thinks of the 28-year-old, who feels privileged to be part of such a special group.
“I just think we’re a little bit older, we’ve got more games under our belt and we’ve just grown with the games,” added Delph.
“We’ve developed, everybody seems to be following and going in the same direction and the sky is the limit for this group of players because they’re still so young and they’ve still got plenty of time to develop.”
Focus now returns to club matters until March, but England’s players will certainly be keeping an eye out on December’s draws for Euro 2020 draw and next summer’s Nations League Finals.
“It’s a great competition,” said Bradford-born Delph of the previously derided Nations League.
“I mean, in years to come it might be... the World Cup started as off as one of those competition, where the first team to win the World Cup probably didn’t think it would become what it is today.
“You never know, maybe this competition might be the same in the future.”