Published 03 September 2021 3 min read
England Men's Senior Team
England's player of the year for 2021 speaks to the official programme for the game with Andorra...
Kalvin Phillips loves Leeds and Leeds loves Kalvin Phillips.
As the chant tells you, “He’s magic you know, Phillips the Yorkshire Pirlo”. Fans who have been in the stands singing that very song will be lucky enough to have seen the midfielder’s rapid rise from a talent in the EFL Championship all the way through to an England international.
“I just feel like everything I’ve worked for has finally paid off,” Phillips says. “I didn’t get picked up until late, I was 14 when I was scouted for a professional academy.
“I feel like that was the best decision for me because I got time to enjoy myself with my friends when I was playing for my grassroots team.
“Then coming through the ranks at Leeds – I’ve been a massive Leeds fan all my life, so I take pride in that. Then getting promoted and getting the call-up for England – you can’t really put it into words to be honest, you don’t dream of stuff like this.”
Not only has Phillips had an impressive ascent since making his Leeds United debut in 2015, but the 25 year old has also taken the club he loves with him.
Having scored seven league goals in 2017-18, once manager Marcelo Bielsa arrived at Elland Road Phillips was pushed to a deeper role in the Argentinian’s midfield, where he’s thrived to help Leeds reach the Premier League for the first time since in 2003-04.
When asked about the moments he takes most pride in, Phillips says: “Being promoted with Leeds, making my first appearance for England and even the EUROs – that was a very humbling moment.”
That all of those achievements have come within a couple of years is remarkable.
Phillips’ England debut was almost exactly a year ago when he played 76 minutes of a 0-0 draw against Denmark in the UEFA Nations League.
Despite the score, this was a massive moment for both Phillips and Leeds, as he’s their first player to represent England since Alan Smith in 2004 – something that only adds to the midfielder’s pride.
It also contributes to how special it is for those who support him. “Even when I came home from the [EUROs], I had a lot of fans coming to my house, to the training ground or at games and they said they felt like proud parents, because it had been so long since a player did well in the national team,” Phillips says.
“I take a lot of pride in that because it’s where I’m from, it’s who I am.”
You can read the full feature with Kalvin in the official match programme for the game with Andorra, along with much more.