Phillips the good guy: sober and suited

The FourFourTwo Football League Player of the Year, Kevin Phillips, is one of football's good guys: friendly, unassuming, modest and hard-working, always with time for fans and journalists alike.

He's had a good career, dotted by soaring highs – that thumper for Sunderland against Chelsea, winning the European Golden Boot, facing both Brazil and Argentina for England at Wembley – but seeing his smile as he picked up the trophy on Sunday night, you could tell it meant something to him. 

And he deserved it, for his performances on the pitch and for his common decency.

Perhaps it has something to do with coming to the professional game late, plucked from non-league after a goal glut that followed a chance positional switch from right-back to centre-forward. Certainly other late starters – Les Ferdinand, Stuart Pearce, Ian Wright, Dave Kitson (who apparently pays for all of his old team-mates and their WAGs to go on holiday once a year) are similarly grounded. 

A year ago, FourFourTwo received a phone call on the morning of the Football League Awards to say that Jason Koumas, the overall winner, coudn't make it to receive his trophy (not that he knew he'd won).

Cue panicked phone calls to ensure that someone from West Brom was there to collect it on his behalf.

That day, Phillips was at a barbecue with family and friends. It had begun at 10am with the first bottles opened not many minutes later. Phillips was dressed in jeans, trainers and a hooded top. If ever he had an excuse to say no, that was it. But he answered the call, selflessly doing a favour for his team-mate, his club and for us.

As he admitted in our video interview with him, 12 months ago, he never dreamed he'd be back on stage, collecting the award on his own behalf.

It's nice to see that sometimes the good guys get their rewards. Especially when they've put a suit on especially.

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