Kalvin Phillips’ former club Wortley have set up a new open-age women’s team on the back of the Leeds and England midfielder’s soaring popularity.
Phillips, 25, who has started every game for England en route to Sunday’s Euro 2020 final against Italy, spent seven seasons at Wortley Juniors under coach Ian Thackray before joining Leeds at the age of 14.
Thackray, now Wortley’s secretary, told the PA news agency that the club has been inundated with requests from all age groups to come and play for them.
“We’ve actually ended up setting up a women’s open-age team, from nowhere,” Thackray said. “We haven’t had a ladies open-age team for yonks!
“Why are they ringing us? We don’t have a ladies team. It’s the Kalvin link. They’re not wanting to join an established women’s club, they want to come here.
“Our chairman (Stuart Haley) asked us all how easy would it be to start one because he’s had nine phone calls in the last three days.
“They’ve already got two sponsors and they’re up to 13 players. We’ve had to make a late application to the West Riding County Women’s League and it appears we’ve got Kalvin to thank for that.”
— UEFA EURO 2020 (@EURO2020) July 7, 2021
Thackray said media interest in the club has also “gone through the roof” and he had briefly taken refuge at his holiday lodge in the North Yorkshire Moors.
“Reception there is that bad, nobody can ring me, but Stuart got through and said, ‘you better come home soon because my phone’s on fire!’
“I think everybody needs a rest with all this carry-on. It’s just gone mad. One of our coaches, Paul Hatfield, said it’s not called West Leeds anymore, it’s called KP Country.
“We’re getting quite a lot of calls from parents who want to bring their kids here. It should be quiet now, but it’s just not stopped.”
Phillips is poised to make his 15th appearance for England at Wembley, with history beckoning for the Three Lions.
“He’s just got to try and help them bring it home now, hasn’t he?” Thackray added. “We can’t lose to Italy now we’ve come so far.
“No one thought we had a hope in hell after the Scotland game and it would just be amazing if they can do it.
“Kalvin would be up on our noticeboard, Facebook and Twitter, everything, for the next 20 years – until we get the next Kalvin Phillips.
“We might be waiting a long time because they don’t come along often.”