'I get goosebumps' - Leeds United team-mates reveal pride over Kalvin Phillips' England exploits
Kalvin Phillips’ Leeds United team-mates are ‘just so proud’ of his Euro 2020 England heroics.
Stuart Dallas, Luke Ayling and Patrick Bamford have added their voices to those heaping praise on the Leeds-born midfielder, who takes on Ukraine in the quarter-finals tomorrow in Rome.
The man affectionately known as the ‘Yorkshire Pirlo’ is hoping to shine in Italy, having played every minute for Gareth Southgate’s side so far in the tournament and caught the eye with his performances against Croatia and Germany, coming in for plaudits from Mesut Ozil, Michael Ballack, Rio Ferdinand and Fabio Capello.
Dallas says Phillips’ success at international level since his September 2020 England debut has been earned.
“It’s giving me goosebumps when you mention his name, I’m absolutely delighted for him,” said the Northern Irishman. “Nobody deserves it more than him. You can talk about my journey but when you look at his, where he’s come from it’s incredible.
“He deserves everything that comes his way.”
Although Dallas has taken some flak from his own compatriots for throwing his weight behind the Three Lions, he makes no excuses for wanting Phillips to go all the way in the competition.
“We’re proud of him here as team-mates, as a club we’re proud of him and he should be proud of himself and his family. I wish him well,” he said.
“Obviously I’m from Northern Ireland and I think I got a bit of stick the other night on Twitter when I said I wanted England to win it but of course I do. I’ve got a good connection here in England, my kids were born here, they’re Northern Irish but born in England. I’d be delighted for him.
"He’s been outstanding and I didn’t really expect any different because he’s that type of lad.”
Ayling, meanwhile, has been providing a constant source of encouragement to his Leeds team-mate through pre-game selfies.
“I speak to him pretty much most days, I text him a picture of me in his shirt every game,” he said. “Just so proud of him. He’s played every minute of every game, you see what a big part he is of the England team.
“Quarter-finals now, he’s got the whole country behind him and it’s brilliant to see.”
What makes Phillips’ impressive performances even more remarkable, not even a year after playing in the Championship, is that he has played in a position that he thought was consigned to his past.
“He’s playing a completely different role, more of a number eight who can go forward,” said Ayling.
“I saw Kalvin do that when I first signed and he popped up with a few goals in my first year.
“Everyone knows he can play there but because of the three years he’s had as a holding midfielder people forget he’s played that role and he can do it. But he can drop back in as a number four, like you saw when Declan Rice went off, and he bossed the game there. The boy has got many talents.”
Seeing Phillips start a major tournament as a more attacking midfielder provided Bamford with his highlight of the Euros so far. The tournament is dominating the Leeds’ striker’s life and Phillips’ displays have given him great satisfaction.
“My summer has pretty much been based around watching it,” he said.
“I’ve watched nearly every game. Going into the tournament probably a lot of people who don’t watch him week in and week out were saying he shouldn’t be starting for England, we’ve got better players, but he’s probably been the most consistent performer alongside the keeper. He’s played every minute and that speaks volumes. I don’t think anyone is doubting him now.
“I spoke with him just before the Germany game. He was in good spirits, it seems like he’s having fun and why shouldn’t he be? The highlight of the tournament, the first game England played against Croatia, seeing Kalvin playing in an attacking role was surprising, seeing him bomb forward, but he did really well.
“It’s been exciting and I’m really happy for Kalvin.”