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Leeds is Kalvin Phillips Land and locals are ‘incredibly proud’ of their homegrown football star

Written by on 03/07/2021

Welcome to Leeds – Kalvin Phillips Land.

There was a junior football tournament in Blackpool just over a decade ago when a young player called Kalvin Phillips got angry.

His junior club side from Leeds had been thumped 6-0 by another team that was packed full of Blackburn Rovers academy players.

Kalvin Phillips in action as a junior for Wortley FC in Leeds.
Image: Kalvin Phillips in action as a junior for Wortley FC in Leeds

It wasn’t a tournament for academy players, it was for local club sides like Wortley FC from the west of Leeds – Phillips’ team.

Phillips was so incensed by the side of ringers that he upped his game and led his teammates through a series of victories to win the tournament.

“He wouldn’t stand for it if he thought he’d been wronged,” his former coach Ian Thackray told Sky News.

“He won us that trophy in Blackpool – it was brilliant.”

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He remembers a dedicated young lad who played with a smile on his face and says he still has to pinch himself when he is watching Phillips run England’s midfield.

“It isn’t rough round here but it is tough,” Thackray said, “and that’s helped him.

Kalvin Phillips far right back row with coaches Ian Thackray and Paul Hatfield at Wortley FC
Image: Kalvin Phillips (far right, back row) with teammates at Wortley FC

“He’s a really good lad and we are incredibly proud.”

Fellow coach Paul Hatfield explained: “This is very much his area.

“His schools are just over there, primary one way secondary the other, his mum’s house is just down that way – it’s all in a tight circle – this is kind of Kalvin Phillips land, I suppose.

“The smile you see now on his face in an England shirt – that smile was there when he was joined us aged seven or eight and right through every age group.

“Whether we’d won, lost, or drawn he always smiled when he came off the pitch – but he had that toughness too.”

The Kalvin Phillips mural in central Leeds which was painted by street artist Akse in the winter. He features alongside Leeds United legends Lucas Radebe and Albert Johanneson
Image: The Kalvin Phillips mural in Leeds, where he features alongside Lucas Radebe and Albert Johanneson

Phillips, 25, has spoken many times about how grateful he is for those who have shaped his career, not least Marcelo Bielsa, his manager at Leeds United, who many believe has propelled him to the next level in the last few seasons.

The midfielder has played every minute of England’s tournament so far and has repaid the faith manager Gareth Southgate has shown in him.

Leeds United legend Lucas Radebe, who was known as The Chief during his spell at Elland Road, told Sky News: “He’s one of the best players I’ve seen in this era, who can play that position in the way that he does for club and country.

“I believe that there are bigger things, he’ll keep improving.”

Radebe has been watching Phillips’ England performances from South Africa and believes he is making a big difference on the pitch and off it.

“He doesn’t only represent the football club and his family, but he represents the bigger side of the race issues that we are facing in our football, you know, trying to eradicate that,” he said.

“This is a great opportunity, a great platform, to showcase and represent what it means to be a professional footballer from the streets in the community to the helm, playing against the best in the world.”

 Sky News

© Sky News 2020

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