Man City target Phillips wanted to leave Leeds in 2019 – but Gran made him stay

As Manchester City eye a swoop for Kalvin Phillips this summer, Leeds fans will be desperately hoping the England star heeds the advice of his beloved Gran – just like he did in 2019.

Back then, the lifelong Leeds fan had seen his head turned. Universally acclaimed as the star of the Championship, the midfielder found himself lured by the bright lights of the Premier League as the clubs queued up for his services.

Aston Villa were among them, keen to capture the player dubbed the "Yorkshire Pirlo" and understood to be offering a fee in the region of £27million for the highly sought-after midfielder. For all his love for Leeds, Phillips appeared intent on making the step up that summer. However his Granny Val had other ideas.

"I were like that," Phillips' grandmother declared on the Amazon documentary 'Take Us Home', while motioning that her hands were shaking. "When somebody said he might move. I said to him 'what am I going to do?'

"He says you'll have to sell that house and come with me. I have too much to leave behind. If I left Leeds, I've got 23 grandchildren, 23 great-grandchildren, and I've got a great-great-grandchild on't way. It wouldn't do for me to move."

With that in mind, Granny Val set about persuading her grandson to snub the high-profile interest from the Premier League and remain with his beloved Leeds. And she succeeded.

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"I've had offers that would turn my life right there and then," Phillips confessed at the time. "So I was second guessing myself, thinking 'should I leave? Should I not?'"

Within an in-depth interview with the Times, the 26-year-old added: "I was swaying towards Aston Villa, but my mum and gran said; 'You've got a job at Leeds to do. If you get promoted with Leeds, you've been here all your life, so why not one more shot to try and do it?'"

With his Gran advice ringing in his ears, Phillips eventually opted to heed his family's advice and sign a five-year deal to remain at Elland Road. At the time of signing, he revealed: "It's just finally cleared everything.

"So nobody is saying this or saying that. I can just concentrate on playing football now. She [Granny Val] said to me that she didn't want me to leave. We've got too much family as well over here."

Phillips would then go on to fulfil his Premier League dream, but in the perfect way possible: with hometown club Leeds, having helped the Whites to promotion at the end of the following campaign. Having made the step up, Phillips career would go from strength-to-strength and his performances with the Yorkshire-based outfit in England's top-flight saw him receive international recognition as England came calling.

However, in early 2021, tragedy struck. Sadly, Val Crosby passed away at the age of 82. Following the death of his dear Gran, Phillips labelled her "the absolute Queen of our hearts" and he later paid tribute to her at Euro 2020. Following the Three Lions semi-final success over Denmark, the Leeds star replaced his matchday shirt with one which bore the name of his beloved Gran.

“I wouldn’t be in this position if it wasn’t for her,” Phillips admitted. “Every time I put the England shirt on I think of her. I actually think I would not be as far in to the tournament if I didn’t respect my grandma that way and show the love and support she deserved.

"It was just her example. She worked a lot. It’s just morals in life. Teaching me what kind of person to be and how to treat others and that hard work can get you as far as you want. That’s what she taught me and it will always stick with me.”

It remains to be seen what Granny Val would have made of the latest transfer tussle over Phillips as City continue to close in. However, one thing is for sure: she would be extremely proud of all that her grandson has achieved in the game.

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