Kalvin Phillips says England want to keep the World Cup party going as he urged fans to be the “12th man” during the quarter-final clash against France.
The England midfielder said footage of supporters celebrating back home has given the players a lift and made them determined to keep making people happy.
He was also full of praise for the thousands of supporters who have travelled to Qatar and urged those able to make the trip to be in the stands on Saturday evening.
— England (@England) December 8, 2022
England will make their third appearance of the tournament at the Al Bayt Stadium, in Al Khor, north of Doha, when they face France – with the winners making a return for the semi-finals.
Asked if England felt they had a “home advantage”, Manchester City’s Phillips told reporters: “The support through the group stage has been amazing, especially the Wales game, and the Senegal game has been massive for us.
“I don’t want to sound a bit too cliched but it’s been like the 12th man pushing us on, they’ve been amazing.
“Seeing all the reactions to the fans back home as well has really given us a lift so hopefully we can keep making them happy and keep helping them party back home and carry on in this tournament.”
Supporters from most nations wanting to enter Qatar are required to have a Hayya card, with the identity document also allowing entry into stadiums alongside a valid match ticket.
But Qatar’s ministry of interior has relaxed the entry requirements for citizens and residents from Gulf Cooperation Council countries, which will make it easier for British expats in the United Arab Emirates and elsewhere to visit.
They can now enter Qatar without a Hayya card although one was still needed for those attending matches.
Phillips, speaking at England’s base in Al Wakrah, said: “If you are one of them people wanting tickets to come see England then please do so because you will make a difference, you will be one of the many that will eventually make the difference and hopefully be a massive part in history for us.
“I urge you to come out and support us because the last few games while being on the sideline, and experiencing the atmosphere and how happy it’s made the England fans, and seeing all the videos back home as well, it’s an amazing feeling and a pleasure to be representing this country at a World Cup.”
Phillips said those fans who have a chance to get a ticket should make it the “first thing” on their “bucket list”.
A number of the squad have taken a shine to a stray cat, given the name Dave, who has made himself at home at their Al Wakrah-based hotel.
Phillips said: “I think he’s a little mascot now, he’s been walking around with an England shirt on for the last few days.”
The 27-year-old was also asked about the death of a migrant worker during the tournament.
The Qatari authorities have launched an investigation amid reports that a Filipino man was involved in a forklift truck incident in which he slipped off a ramp while walking alongside the vehicle at a resort used as a training base by Saudi Arabia.
Phillips described it as “very sad news”, adding: “We are very sorry for the loss and as a team send our condolences.”
Nasser Al-Khater, Qatar’s World Cup chief executive, told BBC reporters: “We’re in the middle of a World Cup and we have a successful World Cup and this is something you want to talk about right now?”
He added: “I mean, death is a natural part of life, whether it’s at work, whether it’s in your sleep.
“Of course, a worker died – our condolences go to his family.
“However, you know, I mean it’s strange that this is something you want to focus on as your first question.”
The issue of safety and treatment of migrant workers has been one of the most contentious aspects of the decision to award the tournament to Qatar, and estimates of casualties have varied wildly.
Elsewhere, England confirmed Raheem Sterling is returning to Qatar and will rejoin the squad ahead of the France game.
The 28-year-old had returned to the UK following an incident at his home in Surrey and missed the second round clash with Senegal.
The Football Association said the Chelsea forward is heading back to Qatar to link up with Gareth Southgate’s squad.
Phillips acknowledged Sterling’s situation back in the UK had heightened the concerns of his England colleagues in Qatar.
He said: “I think, once one player goes through it then there’s always that thought in the back of your mind that it might happen to you or it could happen to somebody else and it’s not a really nice feeling, obviously.”