Even surrounded by 3 million, it’s easy to find yourself alone in the crowd.
Making the move from California, Marky Delgado knew that feeling all too well. Starting anew in Toronto felt like a world away to West Coast native, but the midfielder had little choice but to adjust quickly.
After moving on from the recently-defunct Chivas USA, the midfielder saw was thrust into an entirely new situation, one that seemed overwhelming at the start.
“At first, I wasn’t too happy,” he admits. “It was in another country, far from home, out of my comfort zone.”
But this was hardly the first time Delgado would have to overcome adversity, as the situation at Chivas wasn’t quite ideal. With uncertainty surrounding the future of the club, Delgado learned early on that pressing on isn’t always easy.
“I was young, there was a lot going on upstairs which I never really got to see, a lot of people were talking. During my time there, I had three or four different coaches. Most liked me, but one didn’t. Me being young, I took it hard.”
At a younger age, I used to really dwell on mistakes and it would grab a hold on me. Now I just delete it. I’ve learned that the mistakes don’t define you, it’s about what you do next. You have to be able to bounce back.
Nevertheless, the move to Toronto provided a new opportunity for Delgado, with some familiar faces on the scene to help facilitate the transition.
“I’d spent time with Robin [Fraser] and Greg [Vanney] during my time with Chivas, so knowing that they were here made it easier for me. I knew that they would be looking out for me.”
Off the field, the Canadian lifestyle proved to be a far cry from the laidback ways of California, which made fitting in on the field a challenge, as well.
“I wasn’t too comfortable being here. I didn’t know the city, so I felt like an outsider. Coming to a new team where I didn’t know anyone was tough. I felt I wasn’t at my best. But once I started to gel with my teammates and it made everything a lot easier.”
Two key turning points helped to push Delgado in the right direction from a personal and sporting perspective, and both have reaped its rewards.
Getting the call to represent the United States at the U-20 World Cup in 2015 provided a boost to the young midfielder, giving him a chance to make his mark on the international stage.
“I left for the [2015 U-20] World Cup and I came back with a lot more confidence; that’s when everything started coming together.”
Around the same time, Delgado brought a piece of home along with him to Toronto, bringing out his best on and off the field.
“I didn’t have that support system or someone to tell me that everything’s going to be alright,” he explains. “That’s when my girlfriend, Nicky, came along, and she did exactly that. ‘Keep being you, play your game; things will eventually come around.’ And she was right. I got called up to the World Cup, then started getting minutes here at TFC and started playing well.”
With Nicky at his side, the vastness of the city didn’t feel seem so staggering anymore, proving a partner off the pitch can be just as important as your teammates on it.
“I finally had someone to go out and explore the city with and to support me at games; I’ve been with her for quite a few years now. It was great to get to know the restaurants, the different areas of the city, the restaurants, it helps you feel more connected to the city. It’s nice to have someone to come home to.”
“There are always events going on downtown, we love to check it out. It’s good to get out of the house, take the dog for the walk and just explore.”
Settled in the city, Delgado now finds himself cemented within the squad and undoubtedly a key figure in the team. Riding high, the midfielder has learned from the lessons of his past, not dwelling on mistakes, and ready to fight for what’s next.
“As a player, you can never be too comfortable,” he says. “In a team like this, someone can always come and take your spot. I’ve really been keying in on being more consistent and figuring out what I can do to be more consistent and help the team. I’m always looking to make a statement that I belong on the field.”