The 26-year-old broke into the first team as a highly-rated youngster who looked average at best when compared to the golden boys he came through the ranks with. By the time Phillips had secured a regular first-team spot at Elland Road, Charlie Taylor, Lewis Cook and Sam Byram had all made moves to The Premier League.
But then Marcelo Bielsa arrived and identified where Phillips could thrive. He slotted him in as the ‘number 4’ just ahead of the centre-backs, and that is where he made his name.
After heartbreak in Bielsa’s first season, Phillips had the opportunity to make his big move to The Premier League. Aston Villa were chomping at the bit to bring him in, and Phillips was looking likely to depart.
But his Gran, god bless her, was having none of it. Phillips signed a new deal and led The Whites to a Championship title, scoring the winner on Leeds’ 100th-anniversary match, and then a 9th placed finish in Leeds’ return to the top-flight after a 16-year hiatus.
The 2021/22 campaign was a tough one for all, including Phillips. He hardly played due to injury, but he got something of a fairytale ending when Jack Harrison drilled home the winning goal at Brentford to secure Leeds United’s Premier League status for another year.
Pep Guardiola, a disciple of Marcelo Bielsa in some sense, now brings Phillips to the Premier League champions, offering Champions League football and the chance to cement his place as one of England’s top midfielders, and perhaps become even more than that.
Kalvin Phillips - Welcome to Manchester City pic.twitter.com/7K0Ha4putA— Chris (@FutbolDeAmour) June 24, 2022
Leeds took a less fruitful deal with City to accommodate Phillips’ dream of playing under Guardiola, and I think it’s fair to say that 99/100 Leeds fans wish Kalvin only the best.
Thank you Kalvin.