Kalvin Phillips: It's Going To Be The Hardest Test We’ve Had

Leeds United midfielder on facing Italy in the Euro 2020 Final

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8pm, Sunday 11th July, Wembley Stadium. Already heroes to the nation, one match, one opponent stands between England's class of 2021 achieving what no other Three Lions side has done for 55 years.

Over five decades have passed since England lifted the World Cup in 1966, with Leeds United legend Jack Charlton a central figure in the side that last "brought it home". Fast forward to 2021, another Leeds United player is on the verge of writing their own name into international folklore.

A year ago, he was playing in the Championship. Last September, he made his international debut. This summer, he has started every game of England's Euro 2020 journey. Now, Kalvin Phillips is expected to line up against Italy in the final.

"You try to treat it like it’s just another game,” Phillips told The Guardian ahead of the tournament's finale.

“Gareth is very ‘us’ orientated. He knows what Italy are going to be like, how they are going to play, but he is very orientated on how we will play, how we can affect them. It’s the same way with Marcelo. He has a lot of focus on the other team but he works on ways we can disrupt them and cause them problems.”

Having come up against, and defeated, the likes of Croatia, Germany and Denmark during the tournament, Phillips is expecting another tough test when England lines up against the Azzurri.

“I've played against Jorginho. An amazing player, especially for Chelsea. A player who is very good on the ball, using his body to get away from people. There are going to be a lot of different challenges that Italy are going to cause us.

“Verratti is an amazing player as well. I have always admired Verratti. With their two midfielders it is as difficult as it gets. We know it is going to be a very tough game. To come up against those two midfielders is going to be hardest test we’ve had.”

England have conceded just one goal in their six games so far, with Phillips and West Ham's Declan Rice praised for their formidable partnership in front of the defence.

In his pre-match press conference, Gareth Southgate insisted that neither will be fazed by the task ahead of them.

"Of course there are fantastic players all through the Italy team.

"But players like Rice and Phillips, they've played beyond their experience in this tournament and they've already played against Luka Modric and Toni Kroos, so they've had to adapt to these midfield players with great European experience and they've done that brilliantly.

"We're different, we have our own strengths, own style of play, which is geared towards the strengths of our players. That's the beauty of football, every team has different strengths, we've tried to play to ours and adapt to our strengths and we need to do the same."

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