Bundesliga News

Delaney catches up with Germany's Kicker: "There's been a hell of a lot going on."

By Peter Vice

In an extensive interview with German footballing magazine Kicker, former Werder Bremen and Borussia Dortmund professional Thomas Delaney spoke on his decision to leave the Bundesliga, how he was settling into his new life at Sevilla, and the whirlwind of events he faced this summer as a member of the Danish national team. 

Matthias Dersch of Kicker magazine conducted the interview.

Bulinews' Peter Vice supplies an abridged translation. 

Thomas Delaney.
Thomas Delaney.Photo: Borussia Dortmund

Back in Germany to face VfL Wolfsburg in the Champions' League, Thomas Delaney sat down with Matthias Dersch of footballing magazine Kicker to discuss life after the Bundesliga. After the emotional rollercoaster of this summer's European Championship, the 30-year-old endured transfer rumor after transfer rumor after transfer rumor before his departure from the league in which he played for the last five seasons was finally confirmed.


Delaney had much to impart to a journalist with whom he shared a familiar rapport.

Dersch: Thomas Delaney, why don't we begin directly with something unpleasant....

Delaney: (laughs) Ha! You mean my yellow-red card!

Dersch: Yes! Las Saturday, you received two yellow cards within seconds of one another for fouling, complaining, and then [sarcastically] applauding the ref. In the 65th minute with your team up 1-0 against Espanyol Barcelona, you were sent off for an early shower.

Delaney: Yes, that was my mistake and it still bothers me. In this moment, I was too emotional. I watched the rest of the game on TV and couldn't sit still in the locker room. It was pure stress. I could only calm down a bit after the second goal. I apologized to my teammates and thanked them. The red card made things unnecessarily difficult for us.


Dersch: Something similar happened to your former teammate Mahmoud Dahoud on the same weekend.

Delaney: Yes, that's a funny coincidence. But, as I said, it really bothers me that I was involved in such a thing. It was completely unnecessary.

Dersch: The game against Espanyol was only your fifth for Sevilla. You moved from the BVB to Andalusia just before the transfer deadline. Why did you choose this club?

Delaney: When we played against Sevilla last season, I noticed that they were a very good team. That pushed me over the line. Sevilla is a top team in Spain that has ambitions and plays internationally. Both those things were extremely important for me. In addition to that, the city is really cool and the weather is generally good. That helps too (laughs).

Dersch: You were with Dortmund for three years and were very emotional in saying goodbye. How hard was it to leave?

Delaney: In a sense, it hurt because I was not dissatisfied in Dortmund. On the contrary. I had nothing against either the city or the team. BVB is a great club and I take pride in having played for them for three years. In the final analysis, it was the little things that governed my decision. I could see that I wouldn't be playing the biggest role athletically. At the age of 30, I wanted to play more than the club's plans would allow me to. That's why I wanted to.

Dersch: What did the club think of this perspective?

Delaney: Not much, I believe. But they gave me the opportunity [to leave] anyway. The fact that most felt it was a shame that I was leaving, for me, proved that I was appreciated. I will always have positive memories of this club.

Dersch: A farewell in front of a full crowd was denied to you and them.

Delaney: I spoke to [administrator] Sebastian Kehl at least three times on the day I left and how unfortunate I thought it was. It hurt to make do without a full stadium for a year and a half, because I know what an amazing feeling it is to play before 81,000 [at Signal Iduna Park] and win matches. The fact that that wasn't possible at the time of departure still hurts me.

Dersch: Do you still follow developments at the BVB from afar?

Delaney: Yes, I always watch the highlights. I also look in on Bremen frequently, even though no one I know from time at Werder still plays there.

Dersch: How much faith do you have in your former teammates at Dortmund?

Delaney: I'm keeping my fingers crossed for them that they capture the title in the near future--even though Bayern is once again the favorite this season. Dortmund has a lot of great people on board. I can't really say anything negative about the club and its people. I'd be very happy if they had something to celebrate at the end of the season. Maybe I'll head over to the Borsigplatz and join in, time permitting (laughs).

Dersch: How many times are you asked about Erling Haaland in Spain?

Delaney: Often. "Erl" interests people here quite a bit. But I'm also often asked about Jude Bellingham, who left quite the impression in his games against Sevilla. He leaves it all on the pitch and people here like that.

Dersch: Wolfsburg is coached by Mark van Bommel. As a player, he was an aggressive leader just like you.

Delaney: In terms of the type of player, it's certainly quite true that I'm similar to him. We both carry with us the "good kind of madness" within us on the pitch (laughs). But I had other role models. Gennaro Gattuso or Andrea Pirlo for example.

Dersch: Sevilla has been considered something of an Europa League specialist in recent years. Some jokingly note that Sevilla only play in the Champions' League so as to continue on in the Europa League as third in the group.

Delaney: (laughs) Yes but winning [Europa League] titles isn't bad either and I don't think I necessarily need to stress how hard it is to win the Champions' League. My impression here is that people stand quite proud of the fact that Sevilla wins Europa League titles, especially considering that it's not merely the Champions from Denmark or Sweden who are playing in it but also really big teams. Naturally, the demand we place on ourselves is to advance out of the Champions' League group stage.

Dersch: How difficult was it for you to earn your place in the team after your late arrival?

Delaney: To begin with, I noticed that Sevilla is a very Spanish club. Spanish is spoken here, so I really need to work on my language skills--even if the most important things are translated into English for me. That notwithstanding, I feel very welcome here. I've been well received by the team. We also already found a house. That's very important to me. I'm not someone who likes to live in a hotel.

Dersch: In Sevilla, you met ex-Schalker Ivan Rakitic. Did you endure some ribbing because of your Dortmund past?

Delaney: (laughs) No. Not that. But I actually saw two or three Schalke jerseys with his name on the back in the crowd during the Espanyol match. Dortmund jerseys with my name on the back weren't present yet. I'll have to work on that.

Dersch: In Dortmund, you said that you once felt like a dog owner walking ten puppies on a leash. In Sevilla, you likely face a different task.

Delaney: Yes, the average age here is significantly higher than in Dortmund. Our leading players--Rakitic or Jesus Navas--are well over 30. Naturally, that makes my role different here. But I'm expected to lead the team here too because I was brought in from a big club. I believe I was brought in as a leader and I wish to live up to that.

Dersch: Sevilla doesn't enjoy the greatest reputation in Germany because in recent duels--against Dortmund for example--they've been portrayed as time-wasters and sly cheats. Is that a fair portrayal of the club?

Delaney: No, I don't think so. I perceive Sevilla as a familiar club not dissimilar to the BVB. There are many people working here who come from the region and they give everything for their club. And, in sporting terms, one's work is highly valued. Even if Spanish football is generally slower than it is in Germany, the ambitions are at the same time very high. Our fans expect us to play good football and win matches.

Dersch: Despite the supremacy of Athletico Madrid, Real Madrid, and Barcelona?

Delaney: Yes. Those three usually settle the title among themselves, but the situation is more open overall than in Germany where Bayern is the clear number one. Sevilla has proven in the past that it can get to the top. And we're pursuing this goal again now if I look at our transfers and the depth of our squad.

Dersch: For you, the competition in midfield is pretty fierce too.

Delaney: That's true, but my role here is different than in Dortmund, where I was ordinarily the six. I Sevilla, I'm used a bit further forward, just like with the [Danish] national team. As an eight, I can take part in the attack and go wide--just the way I like it.

Dersch: Many people actually expected you to leave Germany for England.

Delaney: I think these expectations were based on an old story from my days at Bremen. Back then, FC Everton wanted to sign me and I naturally said that I wanted to play in England, but also in the USA or Japan. I later switched to the BVB because it was the right move for me at the time, just like it was the right move to go to Sevilla now.

Dersch: You could also admit that you plan your moves according to where Ludwig Augustinsson plays. The two of you meet up for the third time in Sevilla.

Delaney: (laughs). That's right. But in Copenhagen, I was there first. That was also the case in Bremen, even though we were on the same plane headed there. The fact that we've met again here in Sevilla is really cool.

Dersch: You've had a really intense summer. The European Championship--with all the drama surrounding Christian Eriksen and the semi-final loss to England--and now the transfer. Have you had time to reflect on everything?

Delaney: That's a good question. There's been a hell of a lot going on. But I think I've been able to process everything quite well. After what happened with Christian, we all stopped thinking about football. I think we all expected to lose the next game against Belgium 0-6 because our minds were elsewhere. But after the group stage, things shifted. Christian felt better and things returned to normal. After that The focus then returned to the sporting side of things.

Dersch: Did you learn anything for your career during those weeks at the Euros, where sorrow and joy were so close together? Perhaps even something for life in general?

Delaney: You can't prepare for a situation like the one that happened to us. It certainly brought us much closer together and we learned to be more honest with each other. In football, there's often this attitude that you must be tough and strong and never reveal any weaknesses. The whole world was watching us and we showed them our emotions. The wall that you tend to erect around yourself as an athlete in the public eye fell. I naturally felt at the time that a European Championship is a big deal, but it's not everything. Life is so much more. My daughter teaches me that every day.

Dersch: Do you think that your teammates helped raise awareness of mental health in society through your public handling of your emotions?

Delaney: I hope so. I think, especially after this corona pandemic, a lot of people felt the need to talk about how they were doing during that time. Many were alone and had worries. We footballers are no different than other people, even when we do make a good living. We run and fight and storm up the pitch in front of an audience, but we too have problems that need to be talked about in order to be worked through.


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