Kalvin Phillips was a decent box-to-box midfielder for Leeds United. He’d come up through the Academy and had burst into the first-team. He was putting in the displays, the hard yards and was endearing himself to the Elland Road faithful.

At the same time, some fans were on his back and critical; it is fair to say that he did get his fair degree of pelters from a cohort of fans whose football knowledge is likely distilled from FIFA15 and reading Shoot magazine. However, Marcelo Bielsa didn’t see KP as a box-to-box and told him so.

For Bielsa, Kalvin Phillips was more of a defensive lock to operate in front of the back four. But, he saw him as more than that. Bielsa saw Phillips as not only being able to break up opposition attacks but also as having the ability to kickstart Leeds United counter-attacks. In that respect, he’s like Claude Makelele.

Such has been his two-season stint as a midfield enforcer that he’s just received his England call-up by Gareth Southgate for games against Iceland and Denmark.

Phillips was a massive force this season in Leeds’ push for their eventual promotion. Time and again he was there with a thundering tackle and a quick turn around as Leeds worked the defensive phase into an attacking one. When the customary ‘Whites blip’ was in full flow, Phillips’ return from a three-game, red-card suspension against Brentford, a game that ended in a 1-1 draw, was the start of a pick-up in form that led to an unbeaten run of six games leading up to the Covid-19 lockdown.

Indeed, the Whites only dropped 4 points from their last 14 games – 9 of which included Kalvin Phillips. Such was his influence last season that Gareth Southgate had been tipped to include him in the next round of games. That ‘tip’ is now a reality and here is how Leeds United fans are celebrating the news on Twitter.

Leeds United fans reactions at Kalvin Phillips England call-up

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