'Shocked': Paul Merson can't believe what he's seen from Leeds player
Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips was superb for England in their Euro 2020 opener.
So much so, in fact, that Sky Sports pundit Paul Merson admits the Whites ace’s display “shocked” him.
Phillips made it into Gareth Southgate’s England team for the tournament on the back of a wonderful season for Leeds.
And he was England’s man of the match against Croatia on Sunday.
Phillips shone in the Three Lions opener at Wembley, contributing defensively and offensively.
His pressing meant Croatia couldn’t get into any rhythm, his passing was accurate, and he helped set up Raheem Sterling’s winner.
Merson, writing on Sky Sports, believes Southgate got his team selection spot-on, including Phillips’ inclusion.
“Fair play to Gareth as he is getting pelters if that does not come off and that is what I like about him,” he wrote.
“Confidence in his own ability to go: ‘You know what, I’m going with what I believe and I’m not going to listen to the public.
“‘It is my job and I have to do this my way.”
“If we lose on Sunday, then he is in major trouble, so that was a big gamble.
“If I’m Luke Shaw or Ben Chilwell, though, I might as well go home now with Gareth having gone for a right-footed left-back in Kieran Trippier.
“I also thought playing a back four was a big gamble, but we can’t get carried away as Croatia were terrible and looked well past their sell-by date.
“In midfield, Kalvin Phillips’s performance shocked me if I’m being honest.”
Leeds hometown hero’s rise
Phillips came through the ranks at Elland Road and debuted in 2014 under Neil Redfearn.
He spent his formative years in the Leeds first team as a central midfielder.
However, Marcelo Bielsa’s arrival at Elland Road in the summer of 2018 saw him pushed further back.
Phillips has since prospered to the extent that the Leeds faithful have nicknamed him the “Yorkshire Pirlo”.
His efforts not only helped Leeds get into the Premier League but also enjoy a wonderful first season back.
Making England’s Euro 2020 squad is just reward for his heroics, and hopefully he can help his nation to glory too.
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