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EURO 2020

Kalvin Phillips’ remarkable 12-month journey from EFL to Euro 2020 semi-final


As England prepare to face Denmark in the Euro 2020 semi-final on Wednesday, one player in particular might well be looking at just how far he’s come in such a short space of time.

Rewind the clock to this time last year and Kalvin Phillips had never been called up to a senior national squad nor had he ever played in the Premier League.

He was busy playing a crucial role in Leeds United’s promotion push. They had just secured a 3-1 win at Blackburn Rovers – a game in which Phillips scored – and were well on their way to promotion. They ended the elongated 2019-20 campaign with six straight wins to lift the title at a canter.

Within a few months Phillips, having impressed for United in their early games on their return to the top flight, was fielding calls from Gareth Southgate.

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Raheem Sterling and Kalvin Phillips toast England’s goal against Croatia in the opener

He made his Three Lions’ debut against Denmark on September 8 last year, in a goalless Nations League meeting.

How ironic then that those same opponents lie in wait for the last-four clash on Wednesday night almost ten months to the day since Phillips first pulled on his country’s shirt.

The 25-year-old’s impact on Southgate’s side should not be underestimated. He’s started all five games so far, providing a crucial presence in the engine room whether that’s in a more containing role or as a box-to-box technician.

He showed his composure and ability to assist with his crucial role in Raheem Sterling’s goal against Croatia in the opener.

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What’s perhaps most impressive is the fact he is keeping Jordan Henderson out of the side, restricting the Liverpool captain to limited minutes off the bench.

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Despite a whirlwind 12 months, you couldn’t dream of a better player to cope with such changes. Anyone who has spoken or been privy to his interviews will only know Phillips as being humble and down-to-earth.

That showed in a recent interview, done before the Germany game, where he spoke of still being “star struck” at the speed of his achievements.

“I think even the first time I joined up with the England team, I was a bit star struck to be honest,” Phillips said.

“It’s a nice moment for me. Looking back at where I used to play, reflect on how far I’ve come from when I was younger, and it’s always nice to see how well you’re doing.

“It’s still surreal. I still feel like a fan wanting to know who we’re going to play next, so it’s the same as it always has been. Obviously I’m in a different situation where I’m actually playing for England, but to be honest I don’t let that get to me.

“I love football, I love international football and I love England as well, so I just want to do my best and enjoy myself as much as possible.”

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He will be hoping that enjoyment continues and that cap number 14 brings with it another win and the chance to contest a first major final in 55 years.

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