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Published 14 June 2021 3 min read
England Men's Senior Team

Super Sunday for England pair

Written by:

Tom Dean

Kalvin Phillips and Tyrone Mings reflect on their major tournament debuts in EURO win over Croatia

It was an enjoyable Sunday for England pair Kalvin Phillips and Tyrone Mings, who both made their tournament debuts in the Three Lions’ win over Croatia.

Phillips put in an all-action man-of-the-match display in the heart of midfield and set up Raheem Sterling’s winner with a sublime through ball.

And Mings was instrumental in helping the defence keep a dangerous Croatian attack at bay to give Gareth Southgate’s side the base to build from.

“It was very enjoyable,” said Leeds United ace Phillips, who began his footballing days as a youngster with Wortley Juniors. 

“It was really warm for a start which took a toll on us towards the end of the game, but it was obviously a great result and we’re obviously very happy with the performance. 

“It’s a nice feeling and a great feeling to get an assist and a great feeling to get three points.

“Reems [Sterling] said as soon as we finished celebrating that it’s the first time that I’ve found him with a pass since I’ve been here with England.

“I know that there’s two more group games left and we need two performances as good as that if not better.”

Phillips slips through the pass for Raheem Sterling's winner against Croatia
Phillips slips through the pass for Raheem Sterling's winner against Croatia

Phillips is still a relative newcomer to the Three Lions squad, with his first call-up coming last September and Sunday’s win being his ninth cap.

But he’s quickly become an important and popular member of the group and it’s something he says is down to the spirit among the players and support from the backroom staff.

“I’m just laid-back, that’s the kind of person I am, regardless of what’s been thrown at me,” he explained. 

“I just try to take it in my path and relax as much as possible. If I didn’t have the team around me and the coaching staff around me to make me feel like that, then that wouldn’t be possible.”

For Mings, he revealed that Sunday’s match represented a dream come true having previously supported the Three Lions’ summer tournament games from afar.

It’s not that long since the Aston Villa man was playing for hometown club FC Chippenham and working as a mortgage advisor, so to be on the big stage was a realisation for him.

“It’s a dream come true to play in a major tournament for England, and I loved every second of it,” he said. 

“I’ve never played in a major tournament, I’ve watched a few and it seems a lot more straightforward watching than it does playing. 

“They [Croatia] are a top quality side so it was important for us to repel their threats and deal with whatever they threw at us. Equally, we always have quality to trouble teams. 

“We felt composed and we felt that we were in good shape. The back four is only as good as what’s in front of it, giving it protection, so full credit to the whole team. I thought the players who came on were brilliant and gave us a new lease of life and some energy and that is what is going to be important for us, utilising the whole squad.”