Crawford’s tribute to legend Len

Len Phillips

Len Phillips

Kyle Bennett celebrates scoring his first goal of the match during Pompey's win against Newport County. Picture: Joe Pepler.

Pompey 2 Newport 1: Man of the Match vote

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Ray Crawford paid tribute to Pompey legend Len Phillips and insisted: He would have been worth millions today.

The last surviving regular member of the League Championship-winning sides from 1948-49 and 1949-50 died at the age of 89 on Thursday night.

Crawford was a youth-team player at Pompey when Phillips ruled the roost and was left in awe at the inside forward’s natural ability.

Crawford said: ‘I knew Len right back to my youth days and he was a marvellous player.

‘He had something that you just couldn’t teach lads and he had that natural ability.

‘His control of the ball and the way he saw the players around him was incredible.

‘We all looked up to him. If he was playing nowadays, he would be worth millions and millions.’

Phillips spent eight years at Fratton Park, joining the club after he served for the Royal Marines and took part in the D-Day landings in the second world war aged just 21.

After the war, he was recommended to Pompey manager Jack Tinn and went on to earn two Championship-winner’s medals.

While many of today’s Pompey fans never got the privilege to see him play, Crawford has drawn comparisons with a recent England star.

Crawford said: ‘The closest player to him would be someone like Paul Scholes.

‘His passing was immaculate, he could see runs off the ball and Scholes would be the nearest thing to him in recent years.

‘But he was one of those players who couldn’t play a restricted game.

‘He would only release the ball when he had to and wouldn’t just pass it anywhere. He was a master at keeping the ball and picking the right pass.’

Phillips earned three England caps during his playing days but was injured during a practice game, which halted his international career.

Crawford said: ‘He would have played more times for England but got injured. But he played with some of the illustrious names in English football like Stanley Matthews. Tom Finney and Billy Wright.

‘He was a great man but he didn’t get on with everyone – he certainly didn’t like Alf Ramsey.

‘He called him a posh boy, even though they both came from the same sort of environment.

He asked me one day “how did you get on with Alf Ramsey?” and I said “what a wonderful man. What about you?”

‘Len said: “I couldn’t stand the fella” and we had a laugh about it.

‘He was that sort of guy – he was always straight down the line. If he didn’t like you, he wouldn’t speak to you, but I’m happy to say he spent hours with me so must have thought I was alright!

‘He will be sadly missed.

‘He was a true Pompey legend.’

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