Kalvin Phillips was one of England’s stand-out performers throughout the 2020 European Championship.
The Leeds United man covered a total of 83 kilometres in the competition, and acted as the much-needed marathon runner in the history-making English contingent who reached a first major international final after 55 years–but his most important sprint was one which came right after the EURO 2020 final between England and Italy was concluded.
The Three Lions and the Azzurri found themselves deadlocked both at the end of normal time as well as extra time, so penalties were required to find the winner.
Significant misses from Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho meant that the fifth penalty taker for England had to score to keep them in the match–and up stepped 19-year-old Bukayo Saka.
But the young Arsenal talent let the pressure get to him, and Gianluigi Donnarumma dived to his left to secure the win for Italy.
The thousands of English supporters at Wembley were stunned into silence as Italy players ran past Saka to pile up on their penalty shoot-out hero.
While it was sheer ecstasy for the Azzurri, it was nothing but agony for the young Englishman who simply looked like he wanted the turf to open up and swallow him whole.
But amongst the numerous jubilant blue shirts running towards him, there was a white shirt too–it was Kalvin Phillips who had just covered half the length of the pitch to console his teammate who simply stood by the penalty spot.
The Leeds man was the first to reach the devastated teenager as more England players followed to soothe Saka’s heartbreak.
It was a gesture much appreciated by fans after the match, as even amongst their senior leaders, it was Phillips who looked out for Saka at the toughest of moments.
Phillips not only showed talent beyond his years at the international stage, but he also showed that he is a team man–and this England team, despite falling at the last hurdle, are a group of players that are bound by much more than just their passports.
Seeing all those blue shirts swarming in around Saka on his own and then that one white shirt charging forward to console him… 🥺 Didn’t think it was possible for me to be any more proud of Kalvin Phillips but I was wrong. Hero. #lufc pic.twitter.com/9mLuVA42z6— Tom Noble (@_Noble) July 12, 2021
kalvin phillips being the first to run over to saka says it all 🥺 pic.twitter.com/aR63PPpoIy— isobel (@stylesheartless) July 12, 2021