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Phillips: "I went in as a full-back for two years"

20 March 2019

21 appearances for Crystal Palace was all Kevin Phillips needed to showcase his goalscoring talents to the Eagles faithful, and firmly cement his place in the Holmesdale history books.

The former England international will long be adored for his nerves of steel penalty in extra-time of the 2013 Championship play-off final that saw Palace return to the top flight of English football.

However, Phillips has revealed how he could've quite easily been tasked with preventing goals rather than scoring them!

"I got offered apprenticeship forms at Southampton as a striker. However, when I went in to their full-time training every day, I was still quite small. The manager at the time, Dave Marrington, looked at me and basically said to me: ‘listen, until you develop, we have bigger and stronger players in that area at the moment. We can see you’ve got technical ability, we can see you can score a goal but for your development physically, how would you like to have a go at playing in defence, ie: right-back?’"

"It wasn’t the greatest of news I wanted to hear but at the end of the day it got me in the team week in, week out. I wanted to play up front but I went in as a right full-back for virtually two years as an apprentice."

Despite (in Phillips' own words) 'developing his game and becoming stronger' Southampton opted to not offer professional terms to the striker-cum-defender - a decision that would cost them £3.25million later, when Phillips signed from Sunderland - the former Eagles man headed to non-league with Baldock Town, a decision that would put an end to any opinions that Phillips should be doing anything other than starting up top.

"It was one Friday night, I’d been there (Baldock Town) for about three or four months and the manager at that time was Ian Allison, the former Arsenal winger. He rang me on a Friday night because I kept telling him I was a striker but he didn’t believe me, and he said: 'Listen, Kev, we’ve got a lot of injuries, we haven’t got a striker for tomorrow, how do you fancy having a go up front?’ I said: ‘I’ve kept telling you all along I’m a striker!’

"I remember it clearly today, we played Burnham away, I played up front, scored two goals and never looked back. So it was down to the fact that we had a few injuries in non-league at Baldock Town that I got my chance!"

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