Liam Cooper makes Kalvin Phillips claim after Leeds United midfielder's Euros exploits

Liam Cooper believes Leeds United's Kalvin Phillips can be classed among the best midfielders in the world right now.

Tuesday, 27th July 2021, 2:19 pm
Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips. Pic: Getty

The Whites academy product has had a breakout summer to remember as those outside of Elland Road have started to take note of his abilities due to his exploits with England.

Phillips - who followed up an impressive debut Premier League campaign with a Three Lions call - helped Gareth Southgate's men reach the final of Euro 2020.

England, though, lost in heartbreaking fashion to Italy on penalties at Wembley in the capital earlier this month.

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The Yorkshire Pirlo, as he is affectionately known, featured in every game for his nation, catching the eye particularly against Croatia in the opening group game of the delayed competition.

United team-mate Cooper was among England's opponents at the Euros, representing Scotland in what was the Tartan Army's first international tournament for over 20 years.

Bielsa's club captain now insists having seen first hand Phillips' ability on the world stage and up close at Thorp Arch that he is among the best in his position anywhere.

"He announced himself in that first game against Croatia (at Euro 2020) and I've told him that his life has changed forever now," Cooper told Sky Sports of his Leeds team-mate.

"He knows that though, he's not a stupid lad and lives his life the right way anyway. I've seen his journey from a young lad to where he is now and it's been a pleasure to see - and he belongs there.

"He works so hard here (at Leeds), all the boys and the people of Leeds think the world of him and he deserves everything that comes his way.

"I've seen how hard he works every single day, I see how much he takes on and turns it into his game.

"For me, he is one of the best midfielders in the world right now."

Phillips was given a short break this summer but has now returned for pre-season with the Whites ahead of the new top flight campaign.

United take on Guiseley at Nethermoor Park tonight and will travel to Blackburn Rovers tomorrow for another friendly clash.

There will be around 4,500 travelling supporters at Ewood Park to cheer on the Whites after the UK government lifted restrictions on football stadiums earlier this month.

“I think as a professional you’re always ready, always focused,” Cooper said ahead of the upcoming Premier League season.

“If there was a Premier League game tomorrow we would be up for it, we’d be tactically aware and up to speed.

“It’s just nice to get back together with the boys and have that aim. Pre-season matches start so that is good preparation for us and it’s just exciting.

“The fans will be back as well, which I think everyone has missed more than anything. I can’t wait to hear them, hopefully we get plenty of tickets at Old Trafford [opening Premier League game] and that barmy lot can cheer us on and hopefully get a good result.”