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Ashley Cole issued a heartfelt apology to Kalvin Phillips after the midfielder helped steer England to the Euro 2020 final with victory over Denmark.
Phillips, 25, has started each of the Three Lions' games at the tournament and his midfield partnership with Declan Rice has been crucial to their success.
The Leeds United stalwart only earned his first cap last September and there were questions of his ability to perform on the international stage as Gareth Southgate announced his Euros squad.
But Phillips has answered those questions emphatically over the course of the tournament, starting with his man-of-the-match showing in England's group-stage opener against Croatia.
Phillips has enjoyed a brilliant tournament as one of England's two midfield lynchpins
(Image: Getty Images)
Cole admitted he was one such critic after the full-time whistle blew on the 2-1 victory over Denmark, also opening up on the apology he made to Phillips.
"It was brilliant to see these fans here, the families are here, the players are celebrating singing that great song [Sweet Caroline], it’s just wonderful," The former Three Lions left-back told ITV Sport .
"It’s emotional. I’ll say it live on air, I had to get Kalvin Phillips here and say to him, ‘you know what… big respect’.
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"I think he’s been tremendous in this tournament, he’s been so solid and integral in this England [team]. For me that was my little ‘sorry’."
Cole also discussed Phillips' brilliant understanding with West Ham United star Declan Rice in a glowing verdict on the England team as a whole.
The ex-Arsenal and Chelsea man added: "I have been very impressed. I think there were question marks on whether (Harry) Maguire should start coming back from injury.
"He came back and slotted in so well. I think he has been tremendous in the tournament.
How do you rate Kalvin Phillips' tournament out of 10? Comment below.
"A shout out for Jordan Pickford who has been brilliant and hopefully he can get the Golden Glove.
"And then you look at the two pivots (Phillips and Rice) in front which I think have been vital and integral in the way that England play."
Like many of his fellow pundits, Cole was clearly emotional in the immediate aftermath of England's triumph over Denmark, which came after 90 hard-fought minutes and an equally-tense extra-time at Wembley.
"My throat is dry, my mouth is dry, it's really drained me," he said.
"It’s a little bit surreal, seeing the boys celebrate with their families, who obviously can’t come down and celebrate with them on the pitch, was brilliant.
"I think they’ve worked so hard in the game and to see how happy they are with the staff, the manager, the coaches, it’s brilliant to see so I’m delighted with that."
Buy the official programme for the Euro 2020 final between England and Italy here.