Leeds and England midfielder Kalvin Phillips reveals father’s jail time and pays tribute to mum who would often go starving at night to help feed her kids

Kalvin Phillips’ rise to the top has been something incredible to witness.

The Leeds midfielder, fresh from an impressive Premier League campaign has forced his way into the England reckoning and is now a central cog in their Euro 2020 run.

Phillips was arguably England’s best player against Croatia in the Euro 2020 opener

Phillips provided the match-winning assist for Raheem Sterling’s 57th-minute goal to get Gareth Southgate’s men off to a solid start.

The 25-year-old drove forward, before cutting inside and playing an inch perfect pass to Sterling, who scored his first goal at a major tournament.

And then started every game after that, including the final.

All this came as no surprise to the Elland Road faithful, who have been singing his praises for years or his Leeds teammates.

“I’m pleased for him because he deserves it all,” Barry Douglas told talkSPORT. “He’s put in a lot of effort and sacrifices to get to where he is now.

It was an outstanding display to show he deserves his place among the elite
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“All the ingredients were already there, a lot of it was down to Kalvin too. He could go as far as he wants and has proven he can be among the elite players with England and excelled,” he added, hailing his humble and family orientated character.

Speaking open and honestly about his upbringing last year, Phillips paid tribute to his mum for the sacrifices she made – revealing she often went hungry at night to ensure he and his siblings were fed.

In an eye-opening interview with the Times, he underlined how big a role his mother, Lindsay, has played in him getting to the promised land.

“We used to live in a three-bed house, me and my brother upstairs in bunk beds, my little sister and older sister in the other bedrooms and my mum used to sleep on the sofa downstairs,” Phillips explained.

Phillips is set to start in England’s second group game vs Scotland

“I used to get free school meals. I’d see kids coming in with packed lunches, having sandwiches and chocolate bars.

“Some kids would laugh at me, saying, ‘You’re getting free school meals.’ I’d come home and say, ‘Mum, why can’t I have a packed lunch?’ ‘We can’t afford it,’ my mum explained.

“There have been times where my mum didn’t eat at night because she had to feed us. My mum worked two jobs to make enough money to feed us. Grandma would chip in for food.

“So what Marcus [Rashford] has done is massive [with getting the government to fund free school meals during half-term].”

Phillips also opened up on his relationship with his father, Mark, and how he speaks to him every couple of weeks from jail.

“He’s been in and out my life since when I was young,” he explained.

“He’s been in prison, out of prison. He got into the wrong crowd, drugs, fighting, anything you can name.

Phillips has earned the nickname the ‘Yorkshire Pirlo’ for his no-nonsense playing style
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“I look at the background of my dad. My Dad wasn’t brought up in the best situation. He never knew his father really.

“He got the name ‘Chalky’ because he was the only black guy in his school and in his neighbourhood.

“A lot of people still now call him ‘Chalky’. It’s crazy. He had a kid at 13, my step-sister, we’re very close.

“He and my mum had a relationship where they were OK for a certain point and then my dad would go off and just do whatever he did.

“My mum would lose patience with him and then my dad would go into prison, come back out, come back to my mum and then do exactly the same thing.”

Phillips’ father is based at HM Prison Wealstun, which is only a short drive away from the midfielder’s home.

Communication between the pair is mainly by telephone though.

He continued: “I drive past him every morning. I’ve been to see him a few times but I don’t like going in there and seeing him in prison.

“I’d rather speak over the phone. I speak to him every couple of weeks.

“He is proud of me. He’s Leeds. He’s lived in Leeds all his life. He rang me a couple of weeks after we’d been promoted [last season], and said, ‘Listen to this.’

“All the people who were waiting for a phone call in prison were there, all singing Marching on Together, banging on the walls.”