America's Delicate links with Swans
16th July 2016
He once shared a Vetch Field dressing room with Leon Britton, but has been denied the chance to face Swansea City this weekend by a cancer scare.
Mathew Delicate used to play for Carmarthen Town, and had two spells training with the Swans but did not end up signing for the club.
These days he is a star of Richmond Kickers, the American Soccer League team Francesco Guidolin's men take on this Saturday evening.
But sadly for Delicate, he will be forced to watch the friendly clash from the stands.
He misses out because barely six weeks ago, the 34-year-old was diagnosed with kidney cancer.
Delicate was sent for an ultrasound after a heavy, training-ground collision left him with pain in his back.
It was at that stage that doctors spotted a golf-ball sized tumour on his kidney, and Delicate was soon on the operating table having it removed.
The great news is that following the operation, Delicate was told that the tumour was benign.
As a result, he is now counting down to a return to training and a possible playing comeback before the American season draws to a close in the autumn.
"It's been a scary time," Delicate says, "but I have been very fortunate.
"I have been told that only around one in 10 of these tumours turns out to be benign.
"To begin with, everything pointed to cancer. But thankfully, the diagnosis was reversed. When the results came back, the doctors were surprised."
So instead of facing up to a life-changing illness, Delicate is already eyeing a return to the pitch - and the Kickers will be delighted to have him back.
Delicate is the club's all-time leading goalscorer, having netted 94 times in almost nine seasons wearing their colours.
He now calls America home, yet he was born in Kent and moved to Wales - Newcastle Emlyn, to be precise - as a 14-year-old.
His goalscoring feats at schoolboy level led to a trial with the Swans, before a stint at Carmarthen between 1999 and 2000 which preceded his move across the Atlantic.
Delicate then returned to Wales - albeit briefly - when Brian Flynn was in charge at the Vetch.
"I trained with the club for about a month," he recalls.
"Roberto Martinez was the captain. Lee Trundle was there and so was Leon Britton.
"I did okay and we talked about the possibility of a short-term contract, but I had a young baby in America at the time and it just didn't work out."
Delicate now has three children and has recently started a business which puts together showreels for aspiring sportsmen who are trying to get spotted.
But even after such a major health scare, his playing days are far from over - hence there is frustration that he cannot take part this weekend.
"In the last couple of years I have played against West Brom and Crystal Palace, and it's obviously disappointing not to be able to face Swansea," he says.
"But I will be at the game and I hope to say hello to Leon Britton.
"He wears No. 7 and that is my number, so hopefully I will be able to get my hands on his jersey."