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'What a player Kalvin Phillips' - Ozil & Ballack impressed by England midfielder's performance against Croatia

12:32 PM EDT 6/13/21
Kalvin Phillips England vs Croatia Euro 2020
The Leeds United playmaker's eye-catching turn for the Three Lions in their Group B clash has drawn plaudits from legends across the game

Kalvin Phillips has been hailed by Germany legends Mesut Ozil and Michael Ballack, among others, following a superb maiden tournament display for England in victory over Croatia at Wembley in the pair's Euro 2020 opener.

The Leeds United playmaker arguably proved to be the Three Lions' best player in their Group B clash with their old World Cup foe, anchoring a fine team performance in only his ninth game for his country.

The 25-year-old, playing in the Championship at Elland Road only a year ago, was on hand to set up Raheem Sterling's matchwinner just before the hour-mark, and his display has now drawn the plaudits of several major faces from across football.

What has been said?

Phillips 'happy' with breakout performance

Named as part of an unexpected double pivot alongside Declan Rice in the absence of Jordan Henderson, Phillips arguably remained the most unknown commodity of England's midfield options heading into the tournament, at least on the international stage.

Speaking afterwards, however, the playmaker told BBC Sport that he was delighted with his turn at Wembley in front of 18,497 fans, in particular nailing his assist for Sterling.

"It's a great result and I'm happy with my performance," he stated. "There are two group games left and we need to perform like that - if not better.

"As soon as we finished celebrating [with Raheem Sterling] it's the first time I have found him with a pass since I've linked up with England."

Midfielder rubbishes Rice competition

With Henderson still sidelined after a prolonged injury, Phillips has capably filled the void, though many expect he may be squeezed out when the Liverpool man returns, leaving him locked against Rice for the other spot in midfield - but he has sought to dampen any such speculation of rivalry.

"There's a lot of talk about me and Declan Rice fighting for one position but when we play together," he added. "I think we play really well. It's an honour to play with him.

"It's a great feeling to get an assist and a great feeling for the three points. I'm laid back - that's the kind of person I am regardless of what is thrown at me. I just try and take it in my stride.

"If I didn't have the team around me and the coaching staff around me to make me feel like that then I don't think it would be possible."

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