Delaney hails 'phenomenal' Phillips

  • Last Updated: June 1 2013, 10:13 BST

Damien Delaney has saluted play-off final hero Kevin Phillips after seeing him reap the rewards of his professionalism at the age of 39.

Kevin Phillips: Fired Palace into the Premier League
Kevin Phillips: Fired Palace into the Premier League

Less than two months before his 40th birthday, Phillips was doing what he has done best for the best part of two decades on Monday afternoon when he blasted home the penalty which won the npower Championship play-off final for Crystal Palace.

Defender Delaney played his part in the memorable extra-time victory which means he will enjoy Barclays Premier League football next season, a fact with which he is still coming to terms after joining up with the Republic of Ireland squad the following day.

But the 31-year-old has no doubts about how good a role model the former England striker is to his younger - and that is all of them - team-mates.

Delaney said: "The man is phenomenal. Just his persona, his calmness. He is just - you talk about professional, the man is phenomenal.

"Olly [Palace boss Ian Holloway] doesn't bring him in - he only comes in maybe a couple of days a week, but when he comes in, he is on it. You know he is not at home drinking tea and biscuits, you know he has to be doing his own bits and pieces.

"If I had two or three days off, it would take me a while to get going again. But I tell you, he comes in training and he is on it every day, every day.

"He is so sharp and he is so quick still for 40 years of age, maybe not over 20 yards, but over five, 10 yards, he is still extremely sharp. And the man can finish, as his career is testament to. He really can finish.

"The example he sets to the younger lads - I look at him and obviously, I am pushing on a little bit now as well, but to look at him at 40 and the appetite that he still has for the game and the love that he still has for the game...

Kevin Phillips

Kevin Phillips

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"I spoke to him after the game and I think he is even considering staying on another year, which would take him to just shy of 41 if he did play.

"You are laughing, but it's amazing. But he's a good guy, he's a genuinely good guy and his calmness and his persona around the changing room are something else."

Delaney's season still has 11 days to run with the Republic facing Georgia and Spain in friendlies either side of Friday night's World Cup qualifier against the Faroe Islands.

He will then head off for a well-earned break before returning for an exciting pre-season and a new Premier League challenge.

However, asked if he might follow in Phillips' footsteps and carry on into his forties, he replied: "If I am playing at 41, lads, you have my permission to come and kill me, and that's the truth."


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