Liverpool hero reveals the text that put a huge smile on his face amid exit links

Nat Phillips emerged as an unlikely hero for Liverpool this season as he helped his side finish in third place and secure Champions League qualification.

The 2020/21 season will be remembered for the injuries that ruined the chance to win the Premier League for the second year in a row.

It will also be remembered as the season in which Nat Phillips became an unlikely hero as he played more minutes in the starting XI than he ever dreamed was possible.

The 24-year-old is not a bad player but he can be a bit awkward on the ball.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 31: Jurgen Klopp, Manager of Liverpool speaks with Nathaniel Phillips of Liverpool and Joe Gomez of Liverpool prior to the Premier League match between Liverpool and West Ham United at Anfield on October 31, 2020 in Liverpool, England.
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 31: Jurgen Klopp, Manager of Liverpool speaks with Nathaniel Phillips of Liverpool and Joe Gomez of Liverpool prior to the Premier League match between Liverpool and West Ham United at Anfield on October 31, 2020 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Peter Powell – Pool/Getty Images)

Phillips’ bravery and aerial prowess shone through in the end and he became a key player for Jurgen Klopp as Liverpool achieved an unlikely third-place finish in the Premier League.

Van Dijk text puts smile on Phillips’ face

Virgil van Dijk is the best centre-half by a country mile and while Ruben Dias was tentatively compared to the Dutchman, his awful EUROs performances have underlined how disrespectful the comparisons are.

He’s a world-class player and one of the most talented defenders to ever play in England and while supporters idolise him it seems as though he’s just as revered by those who play with him at Kirkby.

Phillips has revealed how van Dijk helped him and Rhys Williams this season and how a text at the end of the campaign put a huge smile on his face.

He told Goal’s Neil Jones: “Virgil has been amazing. If he was ever at a game at Anfield, he would come and speak to me and Rhys [Williams] at half-time, for example, and give us some advice.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MAY 23: Nathaniel Phillips and Rhys Williams of Liverpool applauds the fans after the Premier League match between Liverpool and Crystal Palace at Anfield on May 23, 2021 in Liverpool, England.
LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND – MAY 23: Nathaniel Phillips and Rhys Williams of Liverpool applauds the fans after the Premier League match between Liverpool and Crystal Palace at Anfield on May 23, 2021 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

“He’d say we could step up higher, or tell us to look out for something specific from the striker, which was a massive help.

“He sent me a message at the end of the season saying he thought I’d done really well in difficult circumstances, and that I should be proud of myself.

“To him, that’s a little thing to do, a small gesture, but for me to receive that sort of praise off the likes of him, it’s huge and I won’t lie, it put a massive smile on my face when I received the text. I was quite surprised, to be honest.”

What’s next for Nat Phillips?

As Jones reported on Wednesday, Liverpool are sympathetic to Phillips’ desire to play regular football but they want to recoup as much as they can for the Englishman and with Stoke City looking for £20m in exchange for Nathan Collins, a player without Premier League experience, the Reds will look to get a similar fee.

Brighton and Burnley reportedly lead the race to sign Phillips while Newcastle United and Southampton are also interested.

For me, Burnley seems like the perfect team for the Liverpool defender to join given his impressive aerial ability.

I’d love to see him stay at Anfield next season but I totally understand his desire to go out and get more game time.

Michael Mongie
Football Central Media Group founder, owner and editor.

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