|Org||xxxx National Team|
|Club as Player||FC Stuttgart|
2020 03 30 Retrieve
[Ready for anything! Liverpool defender Nat Phillips on Stuttgart, Everton and proving his worth to Jurgen Klopp] Honestly mate, I never know what’s around the corner!
Jools told me that Liverpool had been in contact with Stuttgart and the governing bodies. Then he explained the plan and asked me what I thought. It caught me completely off-guard, to be honest! I was stuck for words to be honest!. It hadn’t even crossed my mind as a possibility, so I wasn’t prepared at all, but what an opportunity.
[That was 2016, and two years later Phillips would return to the University of North Carolina as part of the Liverpool first-team squad on a pre-season tour] Looks like you made the right decision. That’s football. Sometimes opportunities come up, and you have to take them. You never know what’s around the corner.
[His return from Stuttgart, though unusual, was certainly an opportunity] He told me how it had all unfolded. It was after Salzburg when Dejan [Lovren] got injured, and they knew they might have a problem with centre-backs. He told me a story where the coaching staff were in the car together and thinking of solutions, then all of a sudden my name just popped into his head. That’s when the process started. It was nice to know I hadn’t been forgotten about, and that they trusted me enough to provide backup in that period rather than look for a temporary signing in the January transfer market. The whole three weeks were amazing
[Phillips recalls the day clearly, the goosebumps walking out and hearing ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’] The standard there is so high. People said we were underdogs because of the side we had out, but those players compete every day with the best players in the world, so we knew what we were capable of
I was so up for it. Then we kicked off and I had a bit of a shaky start. I was thinking to myself ‘it’s not going as I hoped here’. I could feel that the fans were a bit anxious after I’d missed a few headers and tackles, so I knew that I needed a moment. I had that big tackle on the touchline with Richarlison, and I knew once I’d done that I was in the game, the fans reacted to it and it gave me confidence, took the pressure off me straight away
Obviously it was amazing to be involved and back around the team. And yes, you want to be a part of that, but at the same time, for the benefit of my career it made perfect sense to come back here. We knew the centre-backs [Lovren and Joel Matip] were going to be fit again and that I’d get more playing time at Stuttgart. But also as well, I had a job to do here. We are pushing for promotion and I want to be a part of that. I loved being back, and if Liverpool had needed me then yes, but it was never a decision for me to make
[Since returning to Stuttgart, though, he had been a regular] I think playing against Everton, and even just training with the best team in the world, I’ve taken a lot of confidence back. I’ve been able to build momentum and move in the right direction. We played [league leaders] Bielefeld recently, and their striker [Fabian Klos] was top goalscorer in the league. There was a bit of hype about him, and the manager [Pellegrino Matarazzo] said to me that it was my chance to prove to people that you can handle him, that you can get to the level you are pushing for. I relished that opportunity to make a point to people
I think what I’ve done this season has done nothing but help me, but it’s important to remain level-headed, one step at a time and do things the right way. It’s not like I’m going to be coming back saying I should be playing Champions League football, that’s not realistic, but I feel like so far this year I have done enough to think ‘right, what’s the next step?’ with the end goal of one day playing for Liverpool. How long that will take, or what route it will take, I couldn’t tell you right now. But you can guarantee with me it’ll be strange circumstances!
2020 05 13 Retrieve
[Liverpool loanee Nat Phillips has given his experience of German football’s restart plan as he gears up for a return to action with Stuttgart] I’m really excited. As well, with the situation our team is in – pushing for promotion – the stop came at an unfortunate time for us because it felt like we were starting to gather momentum and head in the right direction. So, it’s nice to get back up and running again and hopefully finish those nine games off with a strong finish and get the promotion we want. It has certainly been a different experience - in everyday life it has for everyone - but it has not been a massive issue at all professionally, you’ve just got to be sensible with it and respect the rules and guidelines that have been given to you
When we first went back, it was small groups so we’d arrive at 15 or 20-minute intervals with three or four of the players that you were training with; standard social distancing, maintaining two metres apart even around training. We all got our own parts of the dressing rooms, so there were only ever four or five players in one dressing room at a time. The sessions, there was no contact, it was mostly technical work, whereby you wouldn’t be coming into close contact with each other at any point during the training. And standard hygiene as well. We had our temperature checked every morning as we arrived at the training facility. You took your kit home, and drove to and from training in your kit. So, you didn’t spend much time at the ground and when you did you still maintained distance from each other, even on the training pitch. Right now, we’re in a hotel at the moment for this week in isolation as a team, so there’s no contact with anybody outside of the football club. It’s just to training in the morning, straight back to the hotel – the same thing every day for the week building up to this first game. Even still, we’re getting our temperatures checked every morning. I think I’ve had three or four coronavirus tests already, I think they’re done roughly two or three times a week.
2020 05 15 Retrieve
[Nat Phillips, on loan from Liverpool with 2. Bundesliga side Stuttgart, explained the measures being taken by German clubs] When we first went back [to training], it was small groups so we’d arrive at 15 or 20-minute intervals with three or four of the players that you were training with; standard social distancing, maintaining two metres apart even around training. We all got our own parts of the dressing rooms, so there was only ever four or five players in one dressing room at a time. The sessions, there was no contact, it was mostly technical work, whereby you wouldn’t be coming into close contact with each other at any point during the training. We had our temperature checked every morning as we arrived at the training facility. You took your kit home, and drove to and from training in your kit. So you didn’t spend much time at the ground and when you did you still maintained distance from each other, even on the training pitch