Sheffield Steelers’ ‘staggering’ Jon Phillips hailed over latest career milestone

CAPTAIN FANTASTIC: Sheffield Steelers' captain Jonathan Phillips. 'Picture: Dean Woolley

EVERY few months seems to bring another milestone for Sheffield Steelers’ captain Jonathan Phillips.

His head coach Paul Thompson simply labels the 35-year-old GB international and his achievements in a trophy-laden career as “staggering”.

Tonight sees him record his 900th appearance in all competitions during the Elite League era, which began life back in 2003.

Thompson first came across Phillips when he worked as the GB national team coach, but finally got to work with him on a daily basis when he took over as Steelers’ boss in the summer of 2015.

Phillips himself arrived in Sheffield nine years earlier after six seasons at hometown club Cardiff Devils, where he made his EIHL debut in September 2003.

And it is since his switch to South Yorkshire that he has gone on to enjoy the most fruitful period of his career, winning four league titles, four play-off titles and, on an international level, a prized gold medal at last year’s World Championships which earned Great Britain promotion to the second tier.

Sheffield Steelers' captain Jonathan Phillips, background, listens as head coach Paul Thompson gives instructions from the bench during Wednesday's defeat to Cardifdf Devils. Picture: Dean Woolley.

“What Jonno has achieved during his career is simply staggering,” Thompson told The Yorkshire Post.

“He’s a role model for every young British player trying to make their way in the game.

“He’s not the most prolific when it comes to scoring goals but he just excels at what he does for us – he has tremendous pace, he’s a great penalty killer and he just wants to get better every single day. There’s nobodye else who can touch him for that.

“He’s an inspiration on so many levels and that is why he is our captain – I can’t talk about him highly enough.”

He’s an inspiration on so many levels and that is why he is our captain – I can’t talk about him highly enough.

Sheffield Steelers’ head coach Paul Thompson on Jonathan Phillips

Thompson said the fact Phillips was set to reach such a significant landmark was all the more remarkable given he had undergone two major knee operations in his career.

“That says everything you need to know about the man and how he keeps himself in such great shape,” added Thompson.

As for the man himself, the ever-modest Phillips simply keeps on chugging along, with one eye on reaching 1,000 EIHL games.

“I never would have guessed I’m close to the 900-mark in Elite League games and I’m quite surprised to have got there,” he said.

“You kind of forget how old you are sometimes – there have definitely been more highs and lows and I can look back at it with nothing but pride.

“It would be nice to get to the 1,000 mark for sure. I’ve no thoughts of retiring yet.”

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