Borussia Dortmund midfielder Thomas Delaney is currently starring for Denmark at UEFA Euro 2020, but he could have played his international football for the United States due to his great grandfather laying down roots just outside New York years ago.
bundesliga.com shines a light on the 29-year-old Dane's life and career so far...
Club: Borussia Dortmund
Country: Denmark (58 caps/5 goals)
The 6'0" midfield man was born 3 September 1991 in Frederiksberg, which forms part of Denmark's capital city of Copenhagen and it's there that his footballing career began. Delaney joined the youth ranks of FC Copenhagen and made his way through the club's academy before making his professional debut in the semi-final of the 2008/09 Danish Cup - which Copenhagen went on to win - on 16 April 2009, aged just 17.
Delaney scored on his European debut three months later, finding the back of the net in UEFA Champions League qualifying as the Danish outfit swept aside their Montenegrin counterparts Mogren Budva 6-0. After 246 appearances at the club, and having collected five league championships and four cup crowns, Delaney made the move to Germany in January 2017 by signing terms with Werder Bremen.
Watch: Thomas Delaney speaks to Patrick Owomoyela
Four goals and an assist came in Delaney's half season debut in Bremen, before his first full campaign brought with it 32 Bundesliga appearances, three goals and a further five assists. It was enough to tempt Dortmund into making their move ahead of the Bundesliga's 2018/19 edition, where he immediately formed a productive partnership at the base of the BVB midfield alongside fellow new boy Axel Witsel. Delaney has since gone on to feature 86 times for Dortmund and collected his first major trophy with the club by lifting the DFB Cup at the end of 2020/21 after playing in every round of the competition.
His form in that cup glory, and across Dortmund's league efforts in finishing third, led him to be selected for his country's Euro 2020 campaign, eight years after making his international debut against Malta in October 2013. Since then, Delaney has scored six times for Denmark, while his appearance at Euro 2020 is his second at a major international tournament after also featuring in all four of his nation's matches at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Plays a bit like: Nigel de Jong
Former Denmark coach Age Hareide likened Delaney to former Hamburg and Mainz midfielder Nigel de Jong back in 2018, when he was more widely known for an all-action approach. "He's a box-to-box player," he said. "Very active, very important offensively. He gets into the box, and scored important goals for us in qualifiers."
Three years on, that comparison carries even more weight, even if the description doesn't quite ring as true. In a similar vein to 2010 FIFA World Cup runner-up de Jong, the Danish pitbull now operates in a much deeper role, where sideways runs along with regaining and distributing possession are of greater importance than getting into areas higher up the pitch.
Did you know?
Delaney's surname is of Irish descent that he says dates "back to the 18th century", before his paternal great grandfather moved his family to the United States in the 1840s as famine gripped Ireland. Delaney's grandfather was born in the US after the family settled near New York, meaning he could have played for the USMNT but there was never any doubt about the midfielder's allegiance, having spent his entire life in his homeland prior to moving to the Bundesliga in 2016.
What they're saying
"Thomas Delaney always performs well... He's definitely a very important player who stabilises our defence and is always capable of destabilising our opponents. That's very important in this position. We're lucky to have a player like him in the squad." - former Dortmund coach Edin Terzic
"He's open, accessible, always smiling and embodies something that the BVB did not have before... I think it's great that this guy represents Denmark in Dortmund." - former Denmark and Dortmund striker Flemming Povlsen
"Success is abstract and highly reflective. It is personal and varies from person to person. Fundamentally, success is finding the place that makes you happy." - a philosophical Delaney, speaking to Les Deux