NEW England hero Kalvin Phillips last night told how he dedicated his match-winning performance against Croatia to his mum.
During a stunning all-round display, playmaker Phillips, 25, beat two Croatians before pinpointing a perfect pass for Raheem Sterling to grab the winner on Sunday.
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He dedicated his man-of-the-match showing to mum Lyndsay Crosby who guided him on his path to stardom during his tough childhood in Leeds — and was in the stands at Wembley celebrating her birthday.
The man dubbed The Yorkshire Pirlo after the genius Italian midfielder said: “I’m buzzin’ — it’s hard to put it into words.
“I can’t even remember doing it [setting up the winner] — it was just a blur, then the ball hit the back of the net.
“It was my mum’s birthday the day before and she was right at the front in the stands right at that side so I felt I was celebrating with her.”
Superstar Kalvin is now a millionaire Premier League ace with a stunning childhood sweetheart in Ashleigh Behan.
But his tale of rags to riches is all down to proud mum Lyndsay, who has been instrumental in her son’s success.
It’s an inspirational tale of hard work and the selfless devotion of amazing women in his life, in the face of tragedy.
Kalvin was born a triplet but his sister Lacreasha died when she was just a couple of months old.
Growing up in Armley, West Leeds, Kalvin would often find mum Lyndsay crying in the kitchen, playing music that reminded her of her daughter.
It forced him to grow up and, in the absence of his father, Mark, become the man of the house.
He said: “Seeing her like that made me feel I’ve got to help her out, make tea, look after my brother and sisters when she was working.”
Every year, he and his twin, Deren, say “happy birthday” to Lacreasha on their special day and place flowers on her grave.
And every time he scores, he kisses his arm where he has a tattoo in her honour and points heavenward for the sister he never got to know.
At the family’s three-bed home, a stone’s throw from Leeds’ Elland Road ground, Lyndsay slept on the sofa so Kalvin, Deren and younger siblings Terrell and Tasiana, could have the bedrooms.
Lyndsay worked two jobs but money was scarce and she would skip meals to ensure her children were well fed.
Kalvin said: “There have been times where my mum didn’t eat at night because she had to feed us.”
Kalvin’s beloved grandma, Valerie Crosby, who died in February, aged 82, would “chip in for food”.
Like his fellow England international, Marcus Rashford, Kalvin relied on free school meals at The Farnley Academy, Leeds.
He said: “I’d see kids coming in with packed lunches, having sandwiches and chocolate bars.
“Some kids would laugh at me, saying, ‘You’re getting free school meals’. I’d come home and say, ‘Mum, why can’t I have a packed lunch?’ She’d say, ‘We can’t afford it’.”
And like Marcus, who succeeded in funding food parcels for low-income families through the pandemic, Kalvin now donates to a food bank.
Lyndsay has only recently stopped working one of her two jobs, as a receptionist and cashier at Harpo’s Pizza, Leeds.
On Sunday, the takeaway tweeted a picture of Kalvin grinning in his post-match interview, with the caption: “Our Kalvin! Well done, great assist!”
Kalvin’s Jamaican father, Mark, has been in and out of prison since Kalvin was a boy.
Kalvin told the Times last year: “He got into the wrong crowd, drugs, fighting, anything you can name.”
He has visited him at HMP Wealstun, not far from Leeds’ Thorp Arch training ground, but prefers to speak to Mark on the phone every couple of weeks.
He called him after Leeds were promoted to the Premier League and could hear inmates singing the club’s anthem, Marching On Together, in the background.
Kalvin said of his dad: “He is proud of me. He’s lived in Leeds all his life.”
As well as his mum, sister and grandma, there is one other woman who holds a special place in Kalvin’s heart — girlfriend Ashleigh Behan, a make-up artist he’s been with for 11 years, having met at school.
Kalvin said: “I don’t want to meet anybody else because we’re that close. I keep my circle tight, keep newcomers at a distance.”
Kalvin made his international debut last September against Denmark and admitted joining the squad was nerve-racking.
He said last year: “Every single day, I go home to my girlfriend, see my mum and grandma, and I always talk about football.
“It’s what I live for, it’s what I do, and they have always supported me 100 per cent. I don’t think I’d be here right now if it wasn’t for my mum and grandma.”
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