Leeds midfielder Kalvin Phillips has admitted he thought the England would cruise to victory in the Euro 2020 final against Italy in July after the Three Lions took an early lead.
Luke Shaw put England ahead just two minutes into their first men’s international final in 55 years, only for Italy to equalise midway through the second half and go on to win it on penalties.
Phillips started all seven games at the tournament and was later named England’s men’s player of the year. Now, reflecting on the final over five months on, the Leeds star has revealed he thought it was going to end very differently to how things actually panned out.
“I thought, ‘We’ll get three or four here, we’re gonna blow them away!’ But then they started passing the ball and moving it from side to side. By half-time, I was like, ‘Jesus Christ, these are good’,” he told the Daily Mail.
“[Gareth Southgate] said that he was proud of us, we’ve come a long way. He said it would hurt now but if we work as hard as we did during the Euros there is no reason why we can’t win something.
“He believes we can. But he told us to look at Italy celebrating, that is what it’s all about. So I did. I watched Italy lift the trophy and it made me feel like I want to be in that position.”
Phillips has continued to be an important starter for Southgate’s England this season, playing 90 minutes in World Cup qualifiers against Hungary and Poland, although he had to withdraw from the October squad as an injury precaution.
Phillips later returned to fitness but has since succumbed to a hamstring problem and has missed Leeds’ last three Premier league games against Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal.