Fabian Delph has revealed lifestyle changes in the form of Tai Chi and a vegan diet have been key to his revival with Manchester City and England.
The 28-year-old midfielder come left back has revitalised his career this season after putting his injury woes behind him and focusing on creating a positive mindset, a shift which has helped him play a key role in City lifting the Premier League title and confirming his place in England's 23-man World Cup squad.
It was not initially all smooth sailing, however, as upon Pep Guardiola's arrival at the Etihad Stadium Delph's future was thrown into question as he did not immediately look to fill the mould of a player the Spaniard would often look to.
Yet, 29 appearances across all competitions this season has seen the former Aston Villa man shine, and he credits mindfulness exercises and a vegan diet as key to his well-being.
“I’ve had a lot of injuries and a lot of setbacks, starting with a ruptured anterior cruciate ligament, lateral meniscus tear and medial ligament damage,” Delph is quoted as saying in the book, Soccology: Inside The Hearts And Minds Of The Professionals On The Pitch, via the Mirror.
“At that point, I heard people saying my career was over or my performances would not be as good.
“Not being in the team and only being spoken about in terms of my injury was hard. Being injured massively affected my mental state — self-doubt crept in. "
"I began to question whether I would ever play again and, if I were to play again, whether my performances would be as good. When I began to train again, it took a while for me to adjust to my body’s changes as a result of the injury, find my confidence and get over my fear of breaking down.
“I decided to ignore my doubts and began to look at my body objectively, as if it were detached from me.
“I studied its weak parts, researched my injuries, began to strengthen my body and moved from rehab into pre-hab. I carried out mindfulness exercises like the moving meditation of Tai Chi. I changed the fuel I put into my body and switched to a vegan diet.”
The book by Kevin George, former West Ham midfielder, charts the struggles players face and Delph admitted it's an area which needs improving in football.
He added: “Football doesn’t teach players how to handle these situations, leaving players in a place that affects their well-being. My previous clubs didn’t have anyone we could see to get help when we felt down.
“At Manchester City, we have a sports psychiatrist the players go to see when they have problems. I don’t see him personally, but the lads find him very helpful.
“I feel that my new lifestyle is key to my state and my overall outlook on life, strengthening how I view things on the whole.”