'It's lovely' - Gareth Southgate hails Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips for England emergence in Euros squad effort
Gareth Southgate has hailed the emergence of players such as Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips at this summer's Euros as a 'lovely story'.
The Three Lions have reached their first major final in 55 years and will take on Italy at Wembley stadium on Sunday night.
England have relied heavily on a core group of players during the tournament and Southgate was quick to praise his whole squad for their individual contributions.
Whites midfielder Kalvin Phillips has been one of those who has been called upon on a regular basis, starting all six of his nation's Euros outings so far.
Unlike various members of the current Three Lions squad, Phillips is a player who was never handed international recognition at youth level and is among those who cut their teeth in the Football League.
Southgate, though, says the stories that have emerged across his England squad as a whole are a joy to behold but was quick to give credit to the team as a collective.
"We've got to this point because of all 26 players," Southgate said of reaching this weekend's European Championship final.
"They have all contributed in their own individual way. To see young players come in and do well is always nice.
"I think to see more experienced players in the league come in and do so well - I'm thinking about Tyrone [Mings] and Kalvin Phillips [in particular] who weren't in our junior national teams.
"It's lovely to see those stories emerge - but the great story is the collective effort. The biggest story is this group coming together and seeing how much they're prepared to give to each other."
Asked about Italy and the threat Roberto Mancini's men pose at Wembley this weekend, Southgate said: "They are a team who have gone over 30 games unbeaten. It's the toughest test we've had so far in this tournament.
"I think both teams over the distance of the tournament deserve to be in the final. We have to be at our very best to win.
"We know that. It's a game we can win but we have to be at our best. It's another step forward and another chance to make history.
"We're not worried or put off by that. It's exciting. It's a brilliant game to be apart of and a brilliant game to prepare for.
"You get to a final then you want to win."