Fond of France
by Nicholas Veevers
Wednesday, 09 February, 2011
Matt Phillips has good memories from facing France last summer.
Tickets for tonight's game will be available from the ground, priced £3 for adults and £1 for concessions
For Matt Phillips, any fixture between England and France is always going to evoke memories for it was on a balmy Saturday afternoon in Saint-Lo, Normandy last July when the winger really announced his arrival on the international scene.
With England U19s trailing to their hosts in the European Championships, Noel Blake’s side knew they needed at least a draw to stand a chance of progressing to the semi-final.
Phillips was introduced as a substitute in the second half and with the clock running down, he managed to get on the end of a Ryan Noble cross in the area and after seeing his first header saved by goalkeeper Abdoulaye Diallo, smashed home the rebound to send a jubilant England into the semi-final and also qualification for this year’s U20 World Cup in Colombia.
It remains a poignant moment for Aylesbury-born Phillips, who was a Wycombe Wanderers player at the time and shortly after the squad’s return to England was promptly snapped up by top flight outfit Blackpool.
“That was a brilliant moment for me,” admitted the 19-year-old.
“When the goal went in, I didn’t realise that we would have gone through at that stage, so it was a massive, massive thing for me at the time.
“I was at right-back and Blakey was telling me to get forward I remember. It was a great ball in from Nobes [Noble] on the left and I managed to get my head onto it. It was a great save from the ‘keeper, but I managed to get the follow-up.
“Obviously, I was playing at a lower league level than a lot of the other lads, so it was all new to me. It was a great experience though and one that hopefully I can keep enjoying again in the future and will stay with me.
“When I was out there in France, I didn’t know about who was interested in me before and during the tournament so I suppose in some aspects, it may have helped to put myself out there and make people aware of me.”
Now Phillips is hoping to make his return to the international scene against France in tonight’s U20s game at Shrewsbury, something which had been in his thoughts since last summer.
“I’m very pleased to be in the squad,” he said. “I came away from the U19s tournament last summer and my next ambition was always to try and be involved again.”
The full interview with Matt is in the official matchday programme for the game, order your copy by clicking here.