Leeds United player Kalvin Phillips' old schoolteacher urges him to achieve Euro 2020 glory ahead of England v Italy

Kalvin Phillips’ old schoolteacher says she was ‘emotional’ watching him play a leading role in England’s Euro 2020 semi-final win – and urged him to achieve final glory.

Friday, 9th July 2021, 12:41 pm
Updated Friday, 9th July 2021, 12:45 pm

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A record set, an astounding statistic and a Kalvin Phillips trademark as Leeds U...

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Kalvin Phillips aged about 10yrs, with year six teacher Karen Loney (L) and year 5 teacher Carol Newton (R) at Whingate Primary School (photo: SWNS)

But Claire Beswick, who taught him at primary school, said Phillips remains grounded and has not let his fame go to his head.

And she can still see the same ‘cheeky smile’ on his face while playing at the Euros as he had when he was a little schoolboy.

She added: “I was watching with friends and got emotional thinking about the fact a child I had taught was on that kind of stage.

“It’s amazing to see. Hopefully he can help the team go that one step further on Sunday.

Kalvin first graced the pages of the YEP sister paper, the Leeds Weekly News, in 2007, while at Whingate.

“If we do it then we’re definitely going to try and get Kalvin back to the school to speak to the kids and show them his medal.”

Ms Beswick taught Phillips when he was a year one pupil at Whingate Primary School in Wortley, which he attended from nursery aged three to the age of 11.

She added: “Kalvin was just the same then as he is now – a happy, laidback, lovely lad.

“He even wears the same cheeky smile on his face. It’s amazing to see that same face years later playing football at such a high level.

Kalvin Phillips has shone for England as well as his club, Leeds United.

“It couldn’t have happened to a better person or family, they’re all wonderful people and that includes Kalvin, he really was lovely.”

Under Marcelo Bielsa, Phillips has been an integral part of Leeds’ promotion push and their eye-catching performances in the Premier League.

The Argentinian’s football philosophy demands high levels of fitness and intensity, but Philips is an integral part of both his hometown club and his country.

And it is no surprise to Ms Beswick, who said Phillips’ sporting talents were obvious even as a youngster.

She added: “He always excelled at sport and it was clear to everyone he had a real talent.

“When he left in year six he won a sports award.

“But the amazing thing about Kalvin is that he’s also a genuinely good person.

“He’s a credit to his family, especially his mum. They’ve clearly all kept him grounded and that’s what makes him so special.

“He hasn’t been overtaken by the fame or celebrity lifestyle, he’s the same lad he always was.”

Ms Beswick, now a co-headteacher at the school, added that the current pupils are awe-inspired by Phillips and the fact he was once of them.

She added: “The kids are unbelievably excited about what’s happening, they’re all running around wearing shirts with his name on the back.

“He’s a great example for them that they can do great things as well, they just need to work hard like Kalvin did.

“He always had a good work ethic, he was never naughty, and that’s something we’re trying to instill in the kids – work hard like Kalvin.”

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