Antonio Delamea made quite the introduction upon his arrival in 2017, starting 29 games in his first MLS season en route to being voted JetBlue Team MVP by New England Revolution fans. In the two years since, he has continued to establish himself as a dependable option in central defense.
Here are five fast facts about Delamea you might not have known.
1. Welcome to MLS, Slovenia
When he debuted in the Revolution’s season opener at the Colorado Rapids on March 4, 2017, Delamea became the first Slovenian to play in Major League Soccer, breaking ground for the small central European country of 2 million people.
He has since been joined by fellow countrymen Andraž Struna (New York City FC, 2017), Aljaž Struna (Houston Dynamo, 2019-current), and most recently Robert Berić (Chicago Fire FC, 2020-current).
2. Hoop Dreams
Delamea has often proclaimed his love of basketball and particularly the hometown Boston Celtics, as he’s been something of a regular at TD Garden and has frequently been spotted in Cs gear. As such, we’ll forgive him for a preseason visit to the Staples Center to see the Los Angeles Lakers.
Featuring NBA stars Luka Dončić (Dallas Mavericks) and Goran Dragić (Miami Heat), Slovenia’s national team is a factor on the world stage, and Delamea closely follows the international game.
3. Toni, Toni, Toni
While most of his Revolution teammates refer to Delamea as “Toni,” it’s a relatively new nickname – in fact, it didn’t originate until he arrived stateside and joined the Revs.
On a 2017 episode of the Far Post Podcast, Delamea was asked whether his teammates in Slovenia ever called him Toni. His answer, given with a sly smile: “No. In Slovenia, they call me by name. I saw here it was too hard for guys to call me Antonio, so I just said, ‘Hey, I’m Toni,’ call me like this. Chris Tierney is calling me ‘Tone,’ so it’s very weird.”
4. A Real (Goal)Keeper
Just as his Revolution teammate Andrew Farrell did during a playoff game against Sporting Kansas City in 2013, Delamea once stepped up to don the goalkeeper gloves in a professional match.
On February 27, 2013, while playing for Olimpija Ljubljana in a cup quarterfinal against Maribor, Delamea stepped between the pipes for the final seven minutes when his side’s goalkeeper, Elvis Dzafic, was sent off after the club had already used all three of their substitutions.
Delamea conceded a pair of goals – one a penalty – but came away with a pretty cool story.
5. An Emotional Finish
Delamea has scored three goals in his three seasons with the Revs – all headers – but none more special than the one he scored last June against the Houston Dynamo.
It was the equalizing goal in a dramatic 2-1 win for the Revs, but more importantly, it was a touching tribute to Delamea’s uncle, who had passed away just days before the match.
“I just played today for my uncle,” he said. “He passed away on Thursday, and I’m just happy (for the goal). I know he was there with me and that was for him. I wasn’t thinking anything else but him.”