Rory Delap is an Irish midfielder who was born in Sutton Coldfield, England on 6th July 1976. He started his career with Carlisle United and made his debut at just 16 years of age in 1992/93. Delap didn't become a regular at Brunton Park until the 1995/96 season. In 1996/97 he helped Carlisle win promotion to Division Two, and also picked up an Autowindscreens Shield winners medal after a Wembley victory over Colchester. Delap spent much of the first half of the 1997/98 campaign on the sidelines after being hit by injury problems.
In February 1998 Derby manager Jim Smith spent £200,000 to bring Delap to Pride Park. The former Carlisle man made his debut for The Rams on 14th February 1998 against Everton. On March 25th 1998 Delap won his first international cap for Republic of Ireland in a 2-1 loss to Czech Republic. Despite being born in England, he qualified to play for Ireland through his parents. It wasn't until 1999/2000 that Delap really hit top form for Derby, scoring 8 times. His box to box displays were key for Jim Smith's men. Delap scored a brace in a 3-1 win over Chelsea on 30th October 1999, and also netted in a 4-4 draw with Bradford on 21st April 2000, a game which also saw him sent off. He had another decent season for The Rams in 2000/01, scoring in wins against Leicester, Bradford and Ipswich.
On 10th July 2001 Delap signed for Southampton for a club record fee of £4,000,000. The former Derby man had come recommended by former Carlisle boss Mick Wadsworth, who was now assistant manager to Stuart Gray at St Marys. Delap made his debut on 18th August 2001 in a 2-0 defeat at Leeds. The former Derby midfielder initially struggled to justify his transfer fee, and was sent off twice in 2001/02, against Aston Villa and Bolton. Delap scored his first goal for the club in a 3-1 win over Ipswich on 2nd March 2002, and followed that up with a second against Fulham on 30th March 2002.
Delap performed better in 2002/03, and helped Gordon Strachan's side to an 8th place finish and FA Cup final. He missed the last few weeks of the campaign and the cup final against Arsenal after an injury against Birmingham in April 2003. Delap's performances were passable in 2003/04. He scored one of the goals of the season on 27th March 2004 when he netted an acrobatic overhead kick in a 1-0 win over Tottenham. Despite making a name for himself as a long throw expert later in his career, Delap's powerful throws were less effective for Southampton. Saints scored just three times from Delap's throw ins in his four and a half year spell at St Marys.
Delap was largely poor in Southampton's Premiership relegation season in 2004/05. He did score two set piece headers in a 2-2 draw with Arsenal on 30th October 2004 though. Delap spent the second half of the campaign playing at right back, the position he played at the start of his career with Carlisle. He continued to perform badly during the opening months of 2005/06. Rumour spread amongst fans that Delap had a clause inserted into his contract that required him to play, which would have explained why the midfielder was never dropped despite a succession of dismal displays. He played his last game for the club on 21st January 2006 in a 2-0 home loss to Ipswich.
Delap's old Republic of Ireland boss Mick McCarthy took the former Saints man to Sunderland on 31st January 2006. He made very little impact at The Stadium of Light, as Sunderland went down with what was then a record low points total. Delap scored his first goal for the club in a 2-2 draw at Everton on 1st April 2006. He received very few opportunities for The Black Cats during 2006/07, and was deemed surplus to requirements following the arrival of new manager Roy Keane. Delap joined Stoke City on loan in October 2006, but broke his leg in his second match for the club, which ruled him out for the remainder of the season. Despite his injury, Stoke boss Tony Pulis decided to bring the midfielder to the Britannia on a permanent basis on January 9th 2007.
Delap returned to fitness in time for the 2007/08 campaign, and missed just two games as Stoke won promotion to the Premiership. He scored his first goal for the club on 15th September 2007 in a 1-1 draw with Hull. In 2008/09 Delap performed better for Stoke in the Premiership than he ever had done at Southampton. He contributed massively to The Potters 12th place finish, and caused problems week in week out with his extremely long throw ins, which were a real asset for the physical side. Delap also scored goals against Tottenham and Chelsea. He continued in the same vein of form in 2009/10, providing 10 assists from the touchline. In 2010/11 Delap played in Stoke's FA Cup final defeat against Manchester City, having missed Southampton's match with Arsenal in the same competition eight years earlier.
Delap was less influential during 2011/12, as Stoke finished a disappointing 14th. He still managed 26 appearances, and goals against Fulham and Blackburn. He was sent off in an FA Cup tie at Crawley on 19th February 2012.