By News Team
15th June 2021
Former England goalkeeper David Seaman admits that even he, one of Kalvin Phillips’ biggest fans, was shocked by his Man of the Match performance for the Three Lions against Croatia on Sunday, because he’s more used to seeing the midfielder do the unrecognised hard work off the ball and behind the scenes.
The box-to-box Leeds star caught everyone’s eye as he put in a tireless shift for the Three Lions, which saw him tee up Raheem Sterling’s winning goal with a stunning through ball.
And fellow Yorkshireman Seaman admits that he raised his eyebrows at just how well the young international adapted to the major scene in an England jersey.
He said: “I didn’t expect a Man of the Match performance in the way that Kalvin Phillips delivered it, because he’s not usually one of those players in the limelight. He usually links things with his little passes, but because he had Declan Rice for cover, he could push forward a little bit more and it worked so well.
“How many fouls did he make? And he didn’t even get a yellow card! It’s because he breaks up the play so well and stopped their attack with a little foul and seemed to avoid getting a yellow card. He’s really good at that, and it’s not easy.”
Seaman added: “The experience he’s shown already really surprised me. For Leeds, he’s been brilliant, and now it’s great to see him doing it with England.”
Asked whether this might be the tournament which sees Phillips, who has been linked before with a move away from Elland Road, propelled into the spotlight and force himself onto the shopping lists of elite Premier League teams, self-confessed Leeds fan Seaman wasn’t going to be drawn and jokingly backtracked on his positive comments.
He said: “No! Not at all! He’s not that good!
“In all seriousness, of course he’ll attract teams at some point, but let’s not forget this is only one performance and he’s got to do that in many games and earn himself more experience and then who knows? I certainly don’t want to see him leaving Leeds as we need good players and don’t want to lose them. Unless he left for Arsenal and then I’d be happy!”
Seaman was also pleasantly surprised at how comfortable England looked against Croatia, and was relieved to pass what he expects to be their toughest test of the group with flying colours.
He said: “They didn’t have many shots and that surprised me. Croatia will always be dangerous with (Luka) Modric, because you’re going to have spells on the ball, but the whole team is not as good as the one that we faced in the World Cup semi-final a few years ago.
“I was surprised but I knew that would be the hardest game, and there was a lot of pressure on the lads, but they dealt with it very well.
“It was a big performance because there was big pressure, but we played our game and I feel that if we do that then we can put anybody under pressure.”
Seaman also reserved praise for match-winner Sterling, and he expects the attacker to go on and add to his tally at the Euros this summer.
He said: “Raheem will be looking forward to adding to that tally, because he knows that he can play, and his team-mates know that he can play.
“He had a little spell last season where his confidence was not as high, but he’s getting back to where he was. And if you ask any defender what is the main thing that worries them then they’ll say players with pace, because they can embarrass defenders.
“Raheem is not afraid of getting in there and getting chances. People say to me that he has two or three chances per game, not even one, two or three because he always gets in there.”
With Scotland up next, the former Three Lions number one believes Southgate has earned the right to go with the team he thinks can get the best result after making the right decisions for the Croatia match.
He said: “I must admit, I was surprised that Kieran Trippier was at left-back, perhaps he was picked to come inside and hit balls over the top for Sterling, maybe.
“But I think it’ll be a similar starting XI for the Scotland match because that team handled the pressure really well, and then he’ll start adding. If England get a good result against Scotland, then they’ve almost qualified and then we can test people in that third game.
“That’s when you bring in (Jordan) Henderson and (Harry) Maguire and let them get their experience, because they’ve not had a lot of game time. I think the whole team will be getting rotated until it starts getting to knockout football, and then you’ve got to play your best team.”