Football

Kevin Phillips: England's most underrated striker?

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Just months before his 40th birthday, it was quite fitting for Kevin Phillips  to decide who takes the last place in the Premier League and then £120 million pot of gold that comes with it.

Man of the Match for Palace and Manchester United bound Wilfred Zaha was still wearing nappies when Phillips started his playing career in 1994, with who else but the yesterday's opponents in Watford. 

Who could have predicted a massive 16 years after leaving the Hornets he would return to deliver the killer blow with such huge stakes. The warning signs were already evident however, as he'd already hit the back of the net twice this season against them already, once for Palace and earlier for Blackpool before his loan spell. After the penalty yesterday, half of his goals tally for this season came against the Hornets.

Watford fans shouldn't feel so down when it's revealed they aren't the only club to have been punished over the years by the predatory striker. In 455 league starts and 112 substitute appearances Phillips has managed 248 goals, at a rate of 0.43 goals per game. If it's any consolation to Watford fans 24 of these goals were for the Hornets from 1994-1997.

Considering his goal scoring calibre, and being the only English winner of the European Golden Boot his career is not as glittered with honours, huge transfer fees or England international caps however.

In fact, international football didn't seem to suit Phillips at all, only managing eight caps between 1999-2002 whilst Kevin Keegan and Sven Goran Eriksson were in charge. 

For all his finishing clout, ironically perhaps Phillips failed to hit the target once during international duty. These statistics may hold more validity when revealed he holds the record for most goals scored in a season for Sunderland since World War Two, not to mention him being the 17th highest English scorer of Premier League goals.

He's regarded by many as the bargain Premier League and football league striker of his generation. His staggering 248 league goals have cost the eight league clubs he's appeared for a total of just £5,285,000, that's a mere £21,310 per goal. 

It's quite mind blowing the significance related to the prize of Premier League football next season really. Compare Phillips to Andy Carroll, who has cost £35 million in fees yet managed just 45 league goals, that's £777,777 for every time he's hit the back of the net.

Phillips was 37 before he even had a single honour, being part of the side that shocked Arsenal in the 2011 League Cup final 2-1.

Before the play-off final the striker had the misfortune to lose in his previous three play-off finals. Firstly for Sunderland against Charlton, then for West Brom against Derby and finally last year whilst playing for Blackpool against West Ham. The composure and precision with which he despatched the penalty suggested his nerves were almost none existent. 

Deservedly Phillips will go down in the history books as the man to take Palace to the Premier League following an eight year absence, but will there be one final chapter for the striker who turns 40 in July?

Early reports are suggesting Holloway will offer a Premier League swansong at Palace next season, making his loan deal from Blackpool permanent. However, a rumour is building of a dramatic return to Wearside with a 12-month contract offer on the table from Sunderland, the place where Phillips arguably enjoyed the most prolific part of his career, winning the European Golden Boot in 2000. 

It seems Ryan Giggs will not be the only 40 year old legend in the Premier League next season after all. 


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Topics:
Crystal Palace
Kevin Phillips
Football
Premier League

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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