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'Happiness and gratitude': Soccer player misses World Cup match for birth of child

An English soccer player has had a whirlwind few days after choosing to miss his team's thrilling win in the World Cup in order to witness the birth of his daughter.

British midfielder Fabian Delph, 28, flew home from Russia on June 29 to be with his wife, Natalie, who gave birth to their third daughter on Wednesday.

Hassan Ammar / AP
England's Fabian Delph missed the team's World Cup win over Colombia so he could be there for the birth of his daughter.

"I can’t put into words the happiness and gratitude I’m feeling,'' Delph wrote on Instagram.

The birth came one day after England's dramatic 4-3 victory over Colombia on penalty kicks to advance to the quarterfinals for the first time in 12 years. England will play Sweden on Saturday in a bid to reach the semifinals for the first time since 1990.

"I’ve just experienced the most amazing 24 hours,'' Delph wrote on Instagram. "Watching my brothers come through a tough game both mentally and physically, I kicked every ball and felt every bit of emotion with the players, staff and fans."

Delph had played as a reserve in a 6-1 win over Panama and started in a 1-0 loss to Belgium in the group stage earlier in the tournament.

He left with the blessing of team manager Gareth Southgate, who had known since May that it was a possibility Delph might have to miss a game in the World Cup. Delph will be back with the team for Saturday's game.

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"Some things in life are more important than football," Southgate told Yahoo Sports on Monday. "His focus needs to be with his family at this time.

"It’s a bit of perspective in life. Everybody says you only get one chance to be in a World Cup, but also there’s only one day in your life where your children are born."

Delph isn't the only player in the tournament who was faced with the decision to play or see his child born.

Switzerland's Breel Embolo returned home to witness the birth of his daughter in between games against Costa Rica and Sweden.

Meanwhile, Sweden captain Andreas Granqvist decided to play in Tuesday's win over Switzerland despite it being his wife's due date. He added that he will remain in Russia for Sweden's quarterfinal game against England on Saturday if it means missing the birth.

"We'll see when it's time," Granqvist told The Irish Independent. "If I have the position to fly home quickly back and forth then I may do that. But, whatever happens, I do not miss the quarterfinal."

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