In our weekly Scout feature, Daniel Roberts takes a detailed look at a new emerging talent from world football. Today’s edition looks at one of Huddersfield Town’s brightest prospects, Philip Billing.
At just 19 years of age, one of Huddersfield Town’s brightest prospects is certainly starting to turn a few heads. It’s no surprise when you note that the left-footed central midfielder is a towering 6ft 6in tall. Born in Denmark, Billing started his career at five-time Danish champions Esbjerg fB before moving to England in 2013 to join up with the Terriers. Within his first month at the club, he had impressed enough to not only represent the Under-18 side, but also earn a rapid call up to the Under-21 squad. In fact, he did so well in his first campaign at the club that he even found himself making his senior debut for the club in the tail end of the 2013-2014 campaign, coming on a substitute against Leicester City for the final 15 minutes of the 2-0 defeat.
He would have to wait over a season for his next league appearance for the club, however, making another appearance off the bench, coming on at half-time, to take part in Town’s 2-1 away victory against Charlton. In his 45 minutes, he managed to make two inceptions, one clearance and, not surprisingly, winning 100% of his aerial duels. He didn’t have to wait long for his next taste of Championship football this time round, as seven games later he made his first professional league start in the club’s 2-2 draw against Reading, playing the entire 90 minutes. Although suffering from an injury over Christmas and New Year, the youngster has went on to make a further three starts and two more appearances from the bench, playing in a overall seven games with a strong prospect of many more before the season is out. In those matches, the youngster has an impressive average pass accuracy of 79%, whilst also making 10 interceptions and 15 clearances.
Comfortable with the ball at his feet, Billing isn’t just a defensive asset for his side. Although he can cover the ground well and intercept through balls, whilst also not being afraid to get stuck in, he is equally effective heading forward. He can advance up the pitch well and regularly makes the right pass ahead of him, either out wide, to another midfielder or to an on-rushing striker. At just 19, he reads the tremendously well and is a composed character in the heart of midfield.
Last month, the midfielder added to his growing hype by scoring his first career league goal against Nottingham Forest with a 30-yard spectacular, which was enough to end Forest’s 13-match unbeaten run in the league. The aftermath of the goal saw further excitement from the Town faithful, with one fan stating, “At last we’ve found the missing cog in the wheel. Is it a bird, is it a plane? No its Philip Billing, the best prospect since Denis Law”.
Internationally, the youngster has only represented his country the once, coming off the bench to make his debut for the under-19 squad during their 2-1 victory against Norway back in September 2014.
Enjoy Billing’s spectacular first professional career strike against Nottingham Forest.
What the experts say:
Mark Hudson, Huddersfield club captain: “Phil is progressing well. He has shown he can cope, and the good thing is there is so much more to come from him.”
David Wagner, Huddersfield manager: “Philip is a talent and we are proud he is our player, but we have a lot more work to do with him still.”
Chris Powell, former Huddersfield manager: “It’s great that Phil came on (for his second appearance) and did well. For a young player, he stands out. You can’t miss him and hopefully that’s his career up and running.”
What does the future hold?
After seeing himself starved of football over the festive period due to injury, his aim for the rest of the season and the following campaign will be to establish himself as a first team player at the John Smith’s stadium. However, after an impressive rise to the fringes of the squad, there’s still a long way to go before Billing is gracing the fields of Anfield, Old Trafford and White Hart Lane as a Premier League player.
Following on from his wonder strike against Nottingham Forest last month, Terriers manager David Wagner noted the importance of keeping his feet on the ground.
“Philip scored a brilliant goal”, said Wagner. “It was a brilliant moment for him, but we have to slow down”.
“[He] is a talent and we are proud he is our player, but we have a lot more work to do with him still.”
If he continues to listen to those around him and have valuable time out on the pitch in the second tier of English football, there’s no doubt Billing will find his way to the top flight in the next few years.