It feels like only yesterday that England’s heroes were experiencing heartbreak of the highest order in the Euro 2020 final, but the most likeable England squad in recent memory are reunited once more.
At the heart of the side that came within a whisker of European glory were Declan Rice and Kalvin Phillips, the midfield partnership that carried the Three Lions all the way to the final. Phillips’ performances were particularly eye-catching, having played only one season of top-flight football prior to the tournament.
The Leeds United star has since been recognised for his stellar displays too, after the general public crowned him as England’s Player of the Year for the 2020/21 season. Midfield partner Rice had the pleasure of surprising Phillips with the news, presenting him with the trophy at England’s latest training camp.
West Ham’s superstar explained to the camera that Phillips had no idea that he had won the vote, and it was his job to inform the 25-year-old
Aware of Rice’s reputation as a joker, the Leeds midfielder immediately looked suspicious and nervous as his teammate explained he was in for a surprise, hands hidden behind his back. Rice then announced that Phillips had been crowned England’s Player of the Year, winning over 40,000 votes – and Phillips still appeared unsure whether it was actually a wind-up.
“I can’t believe it,” Phillips said with a beaming smile. “I thought you were going to do something!” he laughed.
Rice, clearly delighted for his teammate, asked him whether he would have expected to be voted England’s Player of the Year at the start of last season, having only made his debut for his country in September.
“I hadn’t even expected to play, to be honest!” the Leeds star replied with a chuckle.
The duo share a great relationship both on and off the pitch, and both were equally proud that Phillips had won the trophy – although he had suspicions that the majority of votes had come from Leeds fans.
Phillips has grown to become a crucial figure in England’s midfield over the past year, maintaining his place in the lineup even when usual starter Jordan Henderson had recovered from injury. The Yorkshire Pirlo started in the Euro 2020 final in the summer, which the Three Lions lost on penalties, having drawn 1-1 with Italy after extra-time.