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Kalvin Phillips names next target after year to remember with Leeds and England

Kalvin Phillips is hoping he can help England go “one step further” with England at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar after making a big admission about the faith Gareth Southgate placed in him this summer.

The Leeds midfielder played a starring role at Euro 2020 as the Three Lions reached their first major tournament final in 55 years. While England were ultimately defeated by Italy in a penalty shoot-out in the final, they can be proud of their efforts. And they hope to carry on their fine form when they resume their World Cup qualifiers with three matches early next month.

Phillips made his intentions clear when speaking to the PA news agency. He also revealed the parting message Gareth Southgate’s told his players soon after their loss on spot-kicks.

Phillips said: “He told us just to stay fit, stay healthy and we can look forward to a very exciting World Cup, which I believe it will be.

“Hopefully, and I don’t want to say too much, but we’ve got a very good, young squad. I’m very happy to be a part of that.

“We’ll see how far we can get and hopefully go one step further next time.”

Only goalkeeper Jordan Pickford and John Stones played more minutes for England at the Euros than Phillips.

And he admits he was taken aback by the faith shown in him by Southgate.

“It was a massive surprise,” Phillips said. “I knew I’d done well in the games before the Euros. But I didn’t really know if I was going to play or not, I was just happy to be there.

“Then once you get the first taste you just want to keep playing more and more. The manager showed a lot of faith in me, even changing my position. I’m grateful for that and very happy he did to be fair.

“Last season was obviously so good for me and the (Leeds) team. Finishing ninth in the Premier League shows how well we did and that gave me the chance to play for England.

“I got the nod from Gareth Southgate and I’m very grateful for that. Hopefully I can keep getting into the squad.”

Phillips in nod to grass-roots football

Phillips’ meteoric rise with Leeds and England has had a positive impact on his first club, Wortley FC.

They have been inundated with calls from parents who want to register their children with the club and have set up a new open-age women’s team on the back of his popularity.

Phillips was speaking on his return to Wortley, where he made a surprise visit to take part in a McDonald’s Fun Football session.

“I’ve seen all the interest on social media. It’s very humbling for me to come back and get involved,” he said.

“I think these sessions are pretty special. From ages five to 11 kids can get free training. It’s a really good stepping stone to learn how to play the game and get involved with fun activities.

“It’s nice to see and be a part of it. Obviously when I was away at the Euros I didn’t really see much of the stuff like this. But to be in my hometown helping out with all the kids, it’s been great.”

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