How Harrison Delbridge balanced US college life with football

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Harrison Delbridge has been christened ‘The Wall of Delbridge’ internally at Melbourne City.

Ironic, because he spent 17 years in the US, but also true as he has been an integral member of the league’s best defence this season.

Delbridge’s path to professional football is not so foreign to those in the US, but here in the A-League it is as unique as it gets.

He did not trial at West Ham or at some Portuguese academy, nor was he recruited from the NPL.

Delbridge earned his stripes playing and studying in the US College system after moving there as a nine-year-old and while his hometown, according to the MLS website, was Raleigh, North Carolina his Australian accent never wavered.

“It’s confusing for me now, when people ask where I’m from now that I’m back here,” Delbridge said.

“It’s sort of come back now but when I first came people thought I was American from the way I spoke.

“It’s funny what the accent does when you’re away for a while.

 

While in the US, Delbridge attended Appalachian State University in North Carolina where he made 56 appearances playing for the college team and was named in the South Conference all-conference team and earned NSCAA All South Region third-team honours.

A large part of college for Delbridge was balancing life with football, a difficult task for a young man at college with his whole life ahead of him.

But having come so far and done so well in the college system Delbridge was motivated by becoming a professional footballer to push distractions aside and do everything he could to make it.

“There are definitely stereotypes about college in America but to be honest they’re not all too far off,” Delbridge said.

“You have to balance school and football.

“Football’s played a massive role in my life so it wasn’t so difficult for me.

“Some people have a bit of trouble in that kind of environment where you’re away from your family and having to fend for yourself.

“It does get crazy at times but it’s all about taking the game seriously and being motivated to go on and play professionally.”

Delbridge would go on to sign for a number of United Soccer League expansion sides before making his way to Melbourne City where he is now a regular in the starting line-up.

Moving back to a country he used to call home 17 years prior, Delbridge’s journey at his new club started slowly having joined halfway through the 2017/18 season where the line-up had well and truly been solidified.

Having learned the difficulties of joining a club at an awkward time first hand, Delbridge used this as motivation during his first full pre-season with the club where he earned his place within City’s starting team.

“I came halfway through the season and was looking to make an impact straight away which isn’t always the case,” Delbridge said.

“It can be hard to come in to a new club and have that effect you wanted to have straight away.

“Having my first pre-season was huge for me.

“I got to spend more time with the group and more time with Warren.

“I was able to pick his brain and find out what he likes and what he expects from us players.”

Now one of the first names on the team-sheet into his second season at the club, Delbridge is excited with the direction of the team as the second half of the season approaches.

While City have been at times underwhelming, they have built their game style around winning matches the ugly way.

The Warren Joyce way.

“We pride ourselves on being a team that’s tough to break down,” Delbridge said.

“Against the teams at the top we’ve held our own and played some good football.

“Having the best defence is a big focus for us and is what Warren’s instilled in the group.

“You’re not always going to be playing your best football and we’ve had games where we’ve had to really grind out a result.”

 

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Athos Sirianos
Athos Sirianos
RMIT Journalism | Football Nation Radio Like all football fans my general mood for the week is dictated by how my team performs over the weekend.

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