Thursday 5 December 2019

'He's like a big teddy bear' - FAI boss finds love with a beautiful blonde

John Delaney tells Niamh Horan how he chased the ex-model for a month before friendship turned into romance

Niamh Horan

Niamh Horan

John Delaney has found love again - with a beautiful model.

The FAI chief has been dating Emma English for four months, after their friendship blossomed when they met at the launch of the Strictly Come Dancing charity ball last year.

FAI Chief Executive John Delaney with his new partner Emma English
FAI Chief Executive John Delaney with his new partner Emma English

And it looks like it's the real deal for the Football Association boss. He told the Sunday Independent this weekend: "We are very much in love. There is no question about that."

Sitting together in the VIP lounge at Dublin Airport as John prepared to fly out to Georgia for Ireland's European championship qualifier, the pair were openly affectionate, smiling and holding hands.

Emma said: "I actually had no idea who he was. Someone had to point him out to me in the bar. He was really approachable and he gave me his business card. He was very easy to talk to. Through emails and phone calls it grew from there. We connected. We are very compatible. We are both very easy-going. Conversation is easy we could talk for hours on the phone about anything."

They say all good things come to those who wait and their relationship was no different. John says he spent a month trying to win the heart of Emma, who was afraid a romance would jeopardise their friendship. "When I asked Emma out in May it took a month to say yes. She was afraid we would lose our friendship."

Emma recalls: "I ran for the hills for a month. He was so dear to me as a friend and we had such a great connection so I didn't want to lose that. I had an awful fear of what if it doesn't work and the friendship meant the world to me."

But John turned the tables on Emma when she eventually succumbed to his charms. "When she came back to me I didn't answer her calls because I didn't want to be rejected again," he laughs. "And then I got a call to say, 'if you don't call me back you don't have any chance'. We met that night in Doheny and Nesbitts. That was the night she said yes. She is as beautiful inside as she is out. She makes me a better person."

Emma says the pair have become inseparable. She even accompanies him on work trips. "The biggest misconception is what he does Sunday to Sunday. I can't keep up. I'd get dizzy every day. He is travelling from one end of the country to another. He has great stamina to be able to do that and he would never say no or let anyone down."

They've been everywhere from Donegal to Monaco. "I was working in Monaco. I went out earlier and she came out later. We also had a couple of lovely days on Arranmore Island. I hope it will go the distance, we are in a very good place."

Emma revealed John has a very soft centre. "He's like a big teddy bear. He is exceptionally romantic. I often say it's the little things that matter to me and he does little things he wouldn't have done before. For example he would get the hair dryer out of my bag for me and plug it in and set it up when I am rushing to get ready and make me a cup of tea. I got the most amazing bunch of red roses one Sunday just because... there was no occasion... just to say he was thinking of me."

The couple said they wanted to go public this weekend to quash any speculation. John said: "It's important to say that we are not out promoting ourselves. The reason we are doing it is there is a lot of speculation and it was going to come out anyway. Once it is out we can have our own privacy after that."

In the meantime, all Emma needs to do is get up to date on her knowledge of the beautiful game. "I am learning the names of the players, but I have a bit to go yet."

Sunday Independent

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