Accent on team quality says Barnsley’s Stones

The number of Yorkshire accents flying around the England dressing room does not go unnoticed as the players rib one another but Barnsley-born John Stones slightly reluctantly says England’s success cannot be put down to that.

Stones is one of five Yorkshiremen in the squad alongside former Barnsley academy team-mate Harry Maguire, who went on to play for Sheffield United and Hull City, Kyle Walker and Dominic Calvert-Lewin, also ex-Blades, and Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips

“We joke about it sometimes, the different parts (of the country) we’re from and it’s just light-hearted,” says the 27-year-old Manchester City centre-back as he spoke to the media over Zoom before tomorrow’s European Championship final against Italy.

“The success is down to individual quality and no matter where anyone comes from, their background, it’s about coming together and being able to put that into a team environment.

England's John Stones, center, Harry Maguire, left and Kalvin Phillips celebrate after beating Denmark in Wednesday night's semi-final. Picture: Andy Rain/AP

“I wish we could say it was because we were from Yorkshire, but I don’t believe it is.”

Earlier in his career Leeds-born Phillips picked up the monicker of the “Yorkshire Pirlo”, a tongue-in-cheek reference to Andrea, the deep-lying Italian playmaker whose class was so influential in knocking England out of the 2012 tournament.

Used higher up the field, Phillips has forged a formidable reputation of his own at Euro 2020.

“He’s his own player with his own qualities,” says Stones, whose old clubhouse at Penistone Church will for the second time this week be full of praying England fans. “It’s funny he’s been labelled the Yorkshire Pirlo, I’ll get on him after this.

“But he’s an incredible player and to see him perform the way he has during this tournament, his first major tournamnent, I couldn’t be happier for him. He’s done himself and everyone back home so proud.”