Men's Team

What coaches, team-mates and experts said about Kalvin Phillips

England international Kalvin Phillips has arrived in Manchester after completing his move from Leeds United.

The 26-year-old has joined Pep Guardiola’s side after eight seasons as part of the first team set-up at Elland Road. 

The midfielder’s form back in 2020 saw him become only the third player in history to play for England before featuring in the top flight.

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He then cemented his position in Gareth Southgate’s team for Euro 2020, where England ended as runners-up, before he was crowned 2020/21 England Player of the Year.

His close relationship with Southgate and Marcelo Bielsa, his mentor at Leeds, has earned him effusive praise from both but what exactly have they and other team-mates, coaches and pundits said about our new number four?

Former Leeds United Head Coach Marcelo Bielsa (October 2021) 

"He makes a lot of effort for the team, he has a good personality, he takes risks and his responsibility doesn’t intimidate him. 

Kalvin Phillips is an idol for the Leeds United fans, he's popular with a lot of affection and we all have the obligation to look after the feeling that unites a fan with a team. 

"The fans suffer when they lose an idol. Kalvin is a player that's done a lot of things to deserve how the fans feel about him.” 

England manager Gareth Southgate (April 2022) 

"It's just over a calendar year since he first played for us and his contribution and impact on the team has been huge. We are always keen to have our best players available and he's certainly been in that category over the past 12 months. 

“He’s been excellent. The way he has taken to international football, it hasn’t surprised us because what we’d seen with Leeds, even in the Championship, we felt could convert into our team. We felt he could play an important role with us. 

“To play in the enormity of the matches he did in the summer and play as well as he did is massive credit to him. He’s a very, very good player and he’s been a really important part of this – we’re 16 games unbeaten [in regulation time] now and he’s been a huge part of that.” 

Current Leeds United Head Coach Jesse Marsch (April 2022) 

"I’ve seen from the beginning that he has an effect in the group, no question because of his personality, his quality, what he means to being part of Leeds United.  

“So my challenge to Kalvin has been to push him to be better and better and to be the best, that’s my goal for him. We’ve talked a lot about the intensity at which I think he can play against the ball and then the ease and the clarity that he can play with the ball.” 

Former Leeds United Head Coach Neil Redfearn (2020) 

“Leeds create overloads all over the field. Bielsa is very clever with that but Kalvin is key to it. 

“He is the perfect build for that position, a powerful player but also has a fantastic range of passing. 

“When he was younger, we used to have him as a box-to-box player who would score plenty of goals. Bielsa has made Kalvin an expert deep-lying midfielder but he could do both roles.” 

England team-mate Harry Kane at Euro 2020 (June 2021) 

“He’s been brilliant.” 

England team-mate Raheem Sterling at Euro 2020 (June 2021) 

“We know the intensity we can play at and not a lot of teams can deal with it. The two players in midfield, Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips, ate up the grass and are animals in there.”

Former England manager Steve McClaren (2020) 

“He sits in front of the back four. But the key thing is controllers always used to be protecting, destroying and a simple passer. He's different. He's a screener and a destroyer, but he intercepts in front of the back four and he plays forward.” 

Leeds vice-captain Luke Ayling [August 2021] 

“When I came here, he was a little happy chappie playing number ten or number eight until the boss [Bielsa] came and changed him into that. Over the last three years he has just kicked on.

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“Things can sometimes get into some people’s heads but he has never changed as a person. He’s a great lad. He came back [after Euro 2020] just the same boy, smiling away and happy to be back with the boys.” 

Former England manager Fabio Capello at Euro 2020 (June 2021) 

Kalvin Phillips and Declan Rice are two phenomenal players, very different from Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard, who I coached: they are very functional in this England, they are two great midfielders who fight on every action.  

“If England never concede a goal, they owe it to these two extraordinary guys, who even run into the locker room after every game! They are the secret of this great England. If the defense is iron, it is thanks to them because they protect their comrades.”

Former Leeds team-mate Barry Douglas (2020) 

"As a defensive midfielder with an array of passing skills, Kalvin Phillips is probably the best I’ve played with.”

Former Leeds team-mate Stuart Dallas during Euro 2020 (June 2021) 

“He deserves everything that comes his way. We’re proud of him here as team-mates, as a club we’re proud of him and he should be proud of himself and his family.” 

Rio Ferdinand at Euro 2020 (June 2021) 

"Phillips has the license to run when Rice sits behind and he has been dangerous in that. He's competitive, he's dynamic. The timing of his runs when he broke out of midfield were perfect, especially with the goal. I think he's just a great lad. Bielsa's been a huge impact on him & had a huge influence on him in terms of fitness & nutrition." 

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