RORY DELAP has paid a warm tribute to Stoke City's supporters . . . after the curtain came down on his six-year career at the Britannia Stadium.
The 36-year-old midfielder, who spent the second half of the 2012-13 season on loan with Barnsley, was one of seven players released by the Potters this week.
Delap clocked up more than 200 League and Cup appearances for the Club and became a huge fans favourite in the process.
He insists: "The supporters were brilliant in my time at the Club.
"When I broke my leg, I received loads of letters and I can't say enough about what they did for me during my time at Stoke."
He added: "There's no one who deserves success more than the Stoke fans, apart from the Chairman and his family.
"Hopefully, they will all get behind Mark Hughes. I'd love to see them push on and hopefully break into the top half of the table."
Delap played a key role in helping Stoke establish themselves in the Premier League, as well as featuring in the FA Cup Final and the run to the Round of 32 in the Europa League.
And he admits his desire for success as a Potter was fuelled by the loyalty the Club showed in him when he first arrived at the Britannia Stadium.
He explains: "In my second game on loan, I broke my leg. The Club, rightfully so, could have sent me back to Sunderland and waited for me to get fit.
"But we'd shaken on a permanent deal in January and the Chairman, Chief Executive and gaffer came to see me in the hospital and said they would honour the agreement.
"I couldn't believe it - I'd only been at the Club a week and it made me desperate to repay and hopefully I went some way towards doing that."
Delap's Stoke career may have come to an end, but he's in no mood to call time on his playing days. "I'll wait and see if anything comes up," he says.
"I'm down at Burton this week and next doing my UEFA 'B' coaching badge, which is something to look forward to, but hopefully something will come up."