Kalvin Phillips admits having a dad in and out of prison drove him on to Premier League glory with Man City

FOOTBALLER KALVIN Phillips has just had the most important year of his career, with a £46million move to Manchester City, playing for England in the World Cup and a treble-winning season.

But he knows the odds were stacked against him becoming a superstar due to a poverty-stricken childhood with his dad in prison.

Kalvin Phillips tells how his upbringing has driven him to strive for success

Kalvin’s dad Mark has been in and out of prison throughout his life and is currently serving a 12-year sentence

A new Amazon Prime documentary will see Kalvin talk about growing up on a deprived council estate

Mark Phillips, who has spent much of Kalvin’s life in and out of jail for violent and drug-related offenses, is currently completing a 12-year sentence.

He didn’t see his son’s quick ascent from academy player in his teen years to Premier League and England stardom.

The former Leeds midfielder has now discussed how growing up on a destitute estate as the oldest of four children made him determined to succeed in the new Kalvin Phillips: The Road To City documentary on Amazon Prime.

Kalvin, 27, says: “My drive is probably from not having a father figure there.

“I’ve always wanted to make my mum proud.

“Dad was in and out of prison.

“It affected our relationship because we didn’t see him all the time.

‘I want to have a better relationship with him’

“When he went away we knew he wasn’t coming back for a while, which was the worst thing.”

Kalvin was born a triplet, although one of the two girls gone

A 40ft mural of Kalvin appeared in Leeds city centre in 2020

After his transfer to Man City, Kalvin moved into a plush penthouse apartment with childhood sweetheart Ashleigh Behan

Kalvin speaks about how his dad missed his meteoric rise to Premier League and England glory

Mum Lindsay Crosby, who went on to have another daughter and a younger son, held down two jobs to make ends meet.

She worked in a cash-and-carry from 9am to 3pm, going home to cook dinner for the four children, then putting in a shift at a pizza takeaway from 7pm to midnight.

Lindsay also did her best to protect the children from the trᴜth about their dad.

In the documentary, she explains: “I tried to hide a lot of things from the kids because I didn’t want them to think that this was OK.

“I used to say he’d gone to work because I didn’t want them to think it was normal to behave like that.”

The footballer visits the house in Armley, Leeds, where he lived until he was 21, and the pitch where he played for his first team, Wortley, from the age of eight until he was signed to Leeds Academy at 14.

Best pal Liam Duggan recalls Kalvin’s dad supporting his team between stretches inside.

He says: “He’d be on the touchline, smoking weed and shouting different things.

“Kalvin respected his dad a lot.

“He was the alpha figure and when he wasn’t there, Kalvin took that kind of role.”

At the age of 19, Kalvin was signed by Leeds United after progressing through the academy ranks. He made his professional debut in 2015 and went on to become one of the team’s most accomplished players.

In Leeds city center in 2020, street artist Akse P19 made a 40-foot mural depicting the footballer.

“It’s emotional seeing that big mural of his face as you drive through town,” says sister Jade Charlton.

“It’s crɑzy. It fills me with pride.”

While in jail, Mark followed his son’s career with pride and the pair spoke over the phone every couple of weeks.

Kalvin recalled in an interview with The Times in 2020: “He rang me a couple of weeks after we’d been promoted and said, ‘Listen to this’.

“All the people who were waiting for a phone call in prison were there, all singing (Leeds anthem) Marching On Together, banging on the walls. It was mɑd.”

But as Kalvin honed his footballing skills, he did not reveɑl to his team-mates that his dad was locked up in Wealstun Prison, just yards from the Leeds training ground.

Reveɑling he hasn’t seen his father for seven years, he said: “It was strange, because every time I drove past it I would think about him.

“When I was young I didn’t want to talk about it but now it’s like, ‘Yeah, my dad’s in prison’. It’s not that big a deal.”

After his transfer to Manchester City, Kalvin moved in to a plush penthouse apartment overlooking the club’s Etihad Stadium with childhood sweetheart Ashleigh Behan.

He says in the documentary: “I never thought I’d be so lucky as to live in a house like this, especially if you compare them to where I lived when I was younger.”

But the programme shows how he dislocates his shoulder 30 minutes into his first game for City — and during his seven-week recovery, thoughts turn to his dad.

He says: “He’s been in for so long.

“I don’t want him to think he’s got nowt when he comes out, when obviously we’ve done so well and I’ve done so well.

“When my dad comes out I just want to try and have a better relationship with him so he doesn’t feel like he’s missed out.”

Kalvin reveɑls his guilt at not visiting Mark in prison for seven years.

He says: “I could have done more to see my dad but I’m very busy and, to be fair, he has said he doesn’t like us to visit him because he doesn’t like us to see him in prison and he doesn’t want us to be in the environment.

‘My nan is the only reason why I’m here’

“Obviously he’s made some wrong decisions but I don’t judge him for them because I’ve heard about the upbringing he had, and it was tough.

“When he was younger my dad was racially abused all the time — he’s told me that himself.”

Kalvin also talks about his beloved ‘Granny Val’ who helped raise him and his three siblings

The £8million-a-year Manchester City star also visits the grave of his beloved “Granny Val”, who helped raise him and his three siblings.

She died two years ago from Covid and the family were not allowed to visit her in hospital in person because of lockdown, though they made video calls.

Kalvin says: “I miss my nan every day.

“I owe Granny Val probably everything that I’ve got right now.

“I remember her being in hospital and struggling to breathe and we were saying, ‘we love you’.

“Everyone was very emotional on that call.

“We knew that was the last time we’d see our gran’s face.

“If I could give away all my money to spend another hour with her, I would do that.

“She’s the only reason why I’m here.”

Throughout the hour-long special, filmed over a year, Kalvin comes across as down-to-earth as he chats to fans and poses with them for selfies outside the Etihad Stadium.

He says: “I was a very shy kid but if I asked anyone for an autograph, even if they said no, I was starstruck.

“So if anyone asks me I will go out of my way to sign an autograph or pose for a photo because I remember what it was like to be that kid.”

In a striking turn of events, Kalvin makes a triumphant return to Elland Road in Leeds, only days after Pep Guardiola of Manchester City called him “overweight” and benched him from the Carabao Cup match against Liverpool in December.

Fans mock him, yelling, “You’re too fɑt to play for Leeds.”

However, while many Premier League players may have responded negatively to the insult, mischievous Kalvin smiles and cheers the audience for its practical jokes.

Liam, a childhood pal, claims he hasn’t been distracted by fame and wealth.

He says: “Kalvin’s got amazing talent and he’s come from nothing.

“He’s worked for what he’s got and he’s never changed.

“That’s a great example for kids that are wanting to follow in his footsteps.”

After a rocky start at City, rᴜmours are rife that he could be moving on again before next season, possibly to replace Declan Rice following his move from West Ham to Arsenal.

Yet wherever he is playing in two years’ time, he’ll be looking out for a very special spectator in the crowd.

The documentary culminates with Kalvin visiting his dad in prison for the first time in seven years — and he is keen to make up for lost time when Mark is released.

Kalvin says: “He’s only got two more years in the prison and he’s told me exactly what he wants to do when he gets out, which is to come and watch football, and that’s one thing I can help him do.

“It will be nice because I’ve not had him there for such a long time.”

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