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Kalvin Phillips throws down ultimate England gauntlet to stir up Italy clash

England midfielder Kalvin Phillips says that Sunday’s Euro 2020 final against Italy will be a level playing field, no matter the quality of player he comes up against.

The Leeds United star has proved one of the standout players in Gareth Southgate’s squad. Indeed, only centre-back and fellow Yorkshireman John Stones has played more minutes so far. Nevertheless, in his first major tournament, Phillips has taken the new experiences in his stride.

The Three Lions have made it all the way to Sunday’s showpiece in front of 60,000 England fans at Wembley.

That, coupled with the finely-balanced tie, make the reputation of his opponents irrelevant, according to Phillips.

“I feel like once you step on the pitch it don’t matter who they have played for or how long they have played,” the 25-year-old said (via the PA News Agency).

“It is just a matter of me beating that person and him knowing that I am good enough to compete against him.

“I think once the first whistle goes that goes out of the window. You have to do the best for your team. That’s what I try to do.”

Italy midfielder Jorginho – who scored the winning semi-final penalty against Spain – has sparkled alongside Marco Verratti at Euro 2020 and will prove the sternest test yet for England.

However, Phillips will enjoy the occasion more knowing he has got here after significant development in the past two years.

He played a key role in helping Leeds win promotion to the Premier League in 2020. However, he has not shirked the step up in class, hence his selection on the international stage.

Beating Stoke 5-0 on their way to the Championship title was a personal highlight for Phillips in his recent journey.

Phillips reflects on Leeds journey

“I have that on my Facebook,” Phillips said. “I was just thinking I can’t believe it has been a year since then.

“It feels like a long season because of what’s happened with Covid but then when you look back it has gone like that [clicks fingers].

“And I feel very blessed and privileged to be in this position. I am going to keep working to get better and better.”

However, he realises he would not have made it without the help and inspiration of his late grandmother, ‘Granny Val’ – as she has been nicknamed.

“It was just her example. She worked a lot,” Phillips said.

“My mum worked in a pizza place but my grandma worked for the Tote at the races. She was there for 50 years or 60 years. It’s just morals in life.

“Teaching me what kind of person to be and how to treat others and that hard work can get you as far as you want. That’s what she taught me and it will always stick with me.”

Regardless of Sunday’s result, Phillips looks set to be in Southgate’s long-term England plans after his recent displays.

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