'I love him' - Declan Rice opens up on England partnership with Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips

Declan Rice loves playing in the heart of England's midfield alongside Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips.

Monday, 5th July 2021, 11:56 am
England line-up at Wembley during the Euros. Pic: Getty
England line-up at Wembley during the Euros. Pic: Getty

The Three Lions pair have struck up a strong partnership under head coach Gareth Southgate at this summer's delayed European Championships.

England are yet to concede a goal at the tournament having reached the semi-final stage of the competition.

Phillips and Rice earned plaudits for their performance together in the toppling of Germany in the round of 16 and have given Southgate's men an element of control throughout.

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The duo were again working in tandem during the Three Lions' 4-0 demolition of Ukraine at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

"A lot of people write us off," Rice told the official England podcast of his pairing with the Whites midfielder.

"For some reason a lot of people compare us between Leeds and West Ham. I feel like Leeds and West Ham fans have now connected together and become like friends this summer.

"Me and Kalv have always been great friends. I love playing with him. You see how good he is for Leeds in the Premier League.

"Every time there is something on social media we send it to each other on Whatsapp and buzz off it. We're really good mates. I want him to succeed as much as I want myself to succeed.

"Hopefully we can keep pushing and performing together."

Both players will be available for England's final four showdown with Denmark at Wembley after avoiding a booking in the quarter-final win on Saturday night.

The Danes toppled the Czech Republic to set up a clash in London and are being fuelled by emotion in their run deep into the Euros.

"They are a really top side," Rice said of Wednesday's opponents.

"I think a lot of people that watch them know that they're a great side. Obviously people watched them against Belgium and what happened with Christian Eriksen [his on-pitch collapse] was so sad for the whole of football.

"They've got that extra motivation and fire in their stomach to go and perform for him. I hope we can do something special before the game for him because loads of the players played with him.

"The game itself at Wembley is a chance to go one step beyond the '96 team that got to the semi-finals and get to our first final since '66.

"We know the opportunity ahead and I've never seen a group of lads that are so focused and ready. We want to really go and do this for the nation."