Kevin Phillips doesn’t understand why he didn’t get a move to a top four club having scored so many Premier League goals: ‘You tell me!’

16 Sep 2000: Kevin Phillips of Sunderland celebrates after scoring the second goal during the Sunderland v Derby County FA Carling Premiership match at the Stadium of Light, Sunderland
(Image credit: Tom Shaw/ALLSPORT)

Kevin Phillips remains the only Englishman to win the European Golden Shoe award after his stunning exploits at Sunderland in the 1999/00 Premier League campaign saw him plunder 30 goals.

Picking up the Premier League Golden Boot at 27-years-old, it seemed inevitable Phillips would earn a move to one of the most successful clubs in England's top flight. 

Alas, that didn't happen. When asked by FourFourTwo why none of the Premier League's top teams tried signing him, Phillips is none the wiser. 

"You tell me! I was very close to signing for Arsenal at one point, but that didn’t work out and I’m not aware of any other approaches," Phillips tells FFT

"Looking back at that era, there were some fantastic strikers around, so perhaps that was a reason. I’m not saying I wasn’t happy where I was, but to have had a chance to play at one of those top-four teams in the Premier League would have been amazing. Especially Arsenal, because I’m an Arsenal fan."

Bizarrely, neither of his Golden Boots are on display at his home. Despite beating the likes of Alan Shearer, Andy Cole and Michael Owen domestically, and Ronaldo and Raul on the continent, Phillips hasn't got either award sitting pride of place. 

"As a striker you want to score as many goals as possible, but to top the Premier League chart in that era especially, and also be the number one in Europe with outstanding players across the continent, was a massive achievement. 

"You have to remember, and no disrespect to Sunderland here, but I managed it in a team that wasn’t expected to score many goals. I have both of those Golden Boots in my loft now. I should probably get them up on the mantelpiece."

After retiring in 2014, Phillips moved into coaching with Leicester City, Nigel Pearson offering him the role as assistant first team coach. He moved to Derby after a year, though, joining up with Nigel Clement at Derby. 

However, there is an element of regret at the move - especially when considering Leicester went onto win the Premier League that season. 

"We’d stayed up by the skin of our teeth but then Nigel Pearson left, Claudio Ranieri came in and you’re thinking we just need to survive again," he explains.

"Some of the signings we made that summer were excellent and we made such a strong start. Jamie Vardy was scoring every week.

"Listen, if I knew they were going to go on and win the Premier League that season, I wouldn’t have left in the September. But a good opportunity came up for me at Derby and I took it."

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Ryan Dabbs
Staff writer

Ryan is a staff writer for FourFourTwo, joining the team full-time in October 2022. He first joined Future in December 2020, working across FourFourTwo, Golf Monthly, Rugby World and Advnture's websites, before eventually earning himself a position with FourFourTwo permanently. After graduating from Cardiff University with a degree in Journalism and Communications, Ryan earned a NCTJ qualification to further develop as a writer while a Trainee News Writer at Future.