Wycombe Wanderers fans have reason to be happy, and proud.
When Matty Phillips scored the injury time equaliser for the England under-19s against hosts France, a huge smile erupted over the Football League’s face. Not only because the midfielder’s finish ensured a mouth-watering semi-final against Spain; but because a recently recruited League Two youth product scored the vital goal, after a 14 minute cameo.
There is much debate around Fabio Capello’s lack of attendance at the finals and the capability of players representing their country at under-19s moving on to represent their country with the full squad. This is mostly because a number of the under-19s have not earned an appearance for their Premier League outfit, whereas others at lower levels are performing on a regular basis.
The media have been searching the archives, pulling this stat and that, in search of answers in the wake of England’s worst World Cup performance since the tournament began in 1930, excluding those we failed to qualify for, of course. The general consensus of these stats seems to point to a lack of progression of these young players, especially at the top clubs.
The sub-plot here also centres on the ‘vulture culture’ and how prospects at lower league level are snapped up by the bright lights, and money the Premier League offers, which more often than not results in a stagnated player. Thus far, Phillips has shone without this distraction, and earned valuable experience playing regular first team football.
After signing professional terms with The Chairboys during the summer of 2008, Phillips went on to play a vital role in the clubs promotion to League One in the 2008/09 season, working both flanks with his pace and ability to beat defenders. This resulted in two awards at club level, including 'Young Player of the Year' as well as the acclaimed League Two 'Apprentice of the Year'.
Since then Phillips has gone quietly from strength to strength under boss Waddock, and earned an England call-up to represent the under-19s in May 2010, before making his mark on the European under-19 Championships as part of the 18-man squad.
Wanderers' head of youth Richard Dobson was justifiably overjoyed with Phillips’ late goal and told the clubs official site, wycombewanderers.co.uk:
"I'm extremely proud that one of our boys is flying the flag in France and it's easy to underestimate the magnitude of Matty's success.
"As a club we must be very proud of what he's achieving as a Wycombe Wanderers player."
How long he will remain a Wycombe player is unforeseen, but fans should revel in this moment; proud that one of their own has hit the headlines for the right reasons. Surely now his name will circulate, and as much as Wycombe and the fans want to see more of Phillips in the chequered blue, a move up the ladder may be calling.
All should hope that he goes against the current grain to progress into the full squad, perhaps in time for a revitalized England at World Cup 2014. And Wycombe fans can be proud once again.
*Disclaimer: The views in this article are that of the writer and may not replicate those of the Professional Footballers' Association.
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