An English soccer player took himself out of the team’s critical elimination game of the 2018 FIFA World Cup to attend the birth of his third child.
Fabian Delph, 28, flew home from Russia on Friday to watch his wife, Natalie, give birth to their child five days later on Wednesday morning, according to the BBC.
While leaving meant Delph missed England’s elimination game against Colombia, the midfielder — who played in England’s match against Belgium on June 28 — Delph expressed no regrets when he took to Instagram to announce the birth of his daughter.
He also confirmed that he was returning to Russia to rejoin his team, which had a thrilling victory over Colombia on Tuesday after beating Colombia 4-3 in penalty kicks.
“I’ve just experienced the most amazing 24 hours,” Delph wrote. “Watching my brothers come through a tough game both mentally and physically, I kicked every ball and felt every bit of emotion with the players, staff and fans.”
He added: “At 07:52 Me my wife and 2 beautiful daughters welcomed there baby sister into the world. I can’t put into words the happiness and gratitude I’m feeling… Back to Russia now.”
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Many fans left congratulatory messages for Delph on the Instagram post, which garnered more than 15,000 likes just a few hours after its posting.
According to Yahoo Sports, Delph had the blessing and full support of England’s general manager, Gareth Southgate.
“Some things in life are more important than football,” Southgate said, according to the outlet. “His focus needs to be with his family at this time.”
Even while the World Cup is soccer’s biggest and most iconic tournament —which can make or break the legacies of individual players and countries — Southgate acknowledged the magnitude of a parent attending a child’s birth.
“It’s a bit of perspective in life,” he continued. “Everybody says you only get one chance to be in a World Cup, but also there’s only one day in your life where your children are born.”
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Delph has said he’s appreciated his manager’s understanding.
“Gareth Southgate has been fantastic,” Delph said in May, according to Yahoo Sports. “There’s nothing more important than family to me — family always comes first and always will.”
With England’s win over Colombia on Tuesday, the team will face Sweden in the quarterfinals of the tournament on July 7.