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Thursday, 13 February, 2003, 11:16 GMT
Strachan rues Delgado exit
Southampton's Ecuadorean striker Agustin Delgado
Delgado's time at Southampton has been dogged by controversy

Southampton boss Gordon Strachan said he feels sorry for the backroom staff who tried hard to rehabilitate Agustin Delgado.

The Ecuadorean striker walked out on the club after reports of a rift with Strachan.

Delgado is reported to have claimed that Strachan consistently refused to pick him.

But the 3.5m international has been plagued with a knee injury and has started just two Premiership games since his move from Mexican club Necaxa in 2001.

Everyone has bent over backwards to help him

Saints boss Gordon Strachan

"I feel really sorry for the coaching staff, the chairman, the players and all the other people who have backed him since he has been here," Strachan told the Saints website.

"I am most sorry for the rehabilitation team and the fitness people who must be scratching their heads now.

"Nowhere in football have I ever seen anyone treated in the way he has been.

"Everyone has bent over backwards to help him and sometimes they have gone against their principles to make sure he is looked after properly."

Delgado's St Mary's days
Nov 2001: Signs from Necaxa for 3.5m
Jan 2002: Makes debut as sub v Man Utd.
June 2002:Scores for Ecuador in 2-1 WC defeat by Mexico.
August 2002: Fails to return for start of season.
November 2002: First Premiership goal in 3-2 win over Arsenal.

Delgado has gone back to South America without Southampton's permission in the past.

This time he has returned home under threat of having a worldwide Fifa ban placed upon him after leaving the club without permission.

He is still technically on the transfer-list after his late return from the World Cup.

But Strachan insisted that he was surprised by Delgado's claims of a row.

"He is saying all these things now but never said any of them to me," said Strachan.

"He was only ever apologetic.

"There is so much I could say but it is best for the moment to draw a line under it all and concentrate on the players that are here and who want to reach the quarter-finals of the FA Cup."

Saints chairman Rupert Lowe has Fifa backing that Delgado will not be able to play elsewhere while the club retain his registration.

Delgado's agent Eric Manasse said: "We are trying to work out a solution for both parties.

"He has walked away from his contract because of differences with Gordon Strachan."

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04 Feb 03 | Southampton
06 Feb 03 | Southampton
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