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First team

POTS Top 5: Billing on gaming, Denmark & being 'Brill'

AFC Bournemouth AFC Bournemouth

Philip Billing's strong season was reflected in the public vote for the supporters' Player of the Year award, where he placed third.

The Dane's second season with the Cherries returned eight goals, seven of which came after being moved into the number ten role by head coach Jonathan Woodgate.

Over the bank holiday weekend we're reproducing interesting programme interviews the copy of the top five in the Player of the Year voting, with Asmir Begovic and Arnaut Danjuma still to come.

The interview below was for the late-February edition of MATCHDAY, just as Billing's season was starting to catch fire in the race for the play-offs.

Philip or Phil?

That’s a tough starter, I’ve never really thought about it! My family call me Philip and my friends call me Phil. I’m used to both. Probably Philip because it’s my full name but I’m used to Phil as well.

Some supporters were calling you ‘Phil Brill’ after your display against Burnley – how did you feel about that?

I didn’t read anything about the supporters calling me ‘Phil Brill’ but it’s always nice when you get compared with something positive.

I saw some stuff on Twitter about Ronaldinho and Zidane. It might have been good, but they are on a different level and I know it was just banter. I was pleased with the performance and it’s always nice to get positive feedback.

On Wikipedia, it says you were born in Lagos but you were actually born in Denmark – can you set the record straight?

I was born and bred in Denmark. My father is Nigerian and my mum is Danish so I am mixed race.

I think a lot of people get confused because my younger sister and brother are both white and my mum had them with my step-dad.

Where’s your favourite holiday destination?

I’ve been to Marbella a few times and know my way around there. It’s a nice place to chill and it’s always warm.

There are a lot of places I want to visit and I also like Portugal.

Once I’m done with football I will definitely travel and explore.

Talk us through your goal of the season for Huddersfield against Cardiff in 2015/16?

It’s something I haven’t really done here. I don’t think people really know what kind of player I am here. It’s up to me to show the supporters what kind of player I am.

I’d like to think I’ve played a few good games in a Bournemouth shirt but Burnley was definitely up there with what I feel I’m capable of. The real me. I played free and enjoyed my football.

For the goal against Cardiff, the ball bounced outside the box and I just tried to time it. I know I should score a lot more goals and get a lot more assists with my left foot which is something I’m working on to try to improve.

It was a good goal but, unfortunately, we lost the game.

What’s your greatest achievement in football?

From where I started to where I am now, playing in the Premier League and representing my country.

As a boy growing up, when I started to learn about the Premier League and saw the football, I knew I needed to play there one day. That was my dream. I’m still young and, hopefully, I’m going to get back there with Bournemouth. I know how hard it is to achieve and how hard you have to work for it.

What’s your biggest regret in football?

When I left Huddersfield, I didn’t leave how I wanted to. I’d been there for so long. There’s nothing I can do about it now and it is what it is. There were things going on behind the scenes which the supporters didn’t know about. But looking back, I wish I’d handled that situation better and left on a more positive note.

If you were a tour guide, would you recommend Denmark as a country to visit?

One hundred per cent.

Speaking to people I know who have visited Denmark, whether it’s Copenhagen or anywhere else, they have always said positive things about the country.

It’s very clean and the people are friendly. If someone wanted me to recommend where to go, I would probably say Copenhagen. It’s a very nice place and has everything. You can chill and it’s a good vibe there. I think people would be surprised how nice Denmark is.

What was your favourite subject at school?

I liked history but don’t know why! I also liked geography. I think I liked those subjects because the teachers made them interesting.

I was interested to see how the world used to function back then and tried to imagine what it must have been like to live in the world then.

When did you first realise you were going to be tall?

I’ve always been bad in the air, people don’t believe it. It’s something which has always annoyed me because as a tall person who’s always been I always wanted to play with my feet since I was a kid that’s how I was brought up in Denmark technical, let’s play football.

I know I need to be better in the air. I feel like I don’t really know my size and I don’t feel like I’m 6ft 6in when I’m running around on the pitch.

I feel quick and feel I have better feet than most 6ft 6in players would have. You look around and there probably aren’t many players in my position as tall as me but I don’t feel like it. I have to watch clips after the game and then I realise I’m towering over the other players.

I don’t know when I realised. At 13 or 14, I wasn’t tall. Around 15 or 16, when I joined Huddersfield that’s when I started growing and realised I was going to be tall.

I didn’t lose my agility. I used to play a lot of sports growing up. Ice hockey was good for the balance. I’ve always been a sporty person.

NBA or NFL?

NBA

Expand on that choice...

I used to be a big Houston Rockets fan but all their best players left!

There are times when I watch a lot of the highlights but I haven’t watched it for a while now.

It’s an intense sport and there is so much happening all the time. I find it intriguing because they are proper athletes. They are tall but they are beasts as well. Normally you would expect them to be skinny but they are built like animals. I find that intriguing and am trying to learn from it.

You can learn so much from watching different sports. I like all sports and watch anything but don’t really understand NFL!

As a keen gamer, what’s your favourite all-time game?

I am a very big gamer!

I grew up playing Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. My parents didn’t really want me to play that because it’s quite violent but I’ve never been a violent person. I understand why parents get worried if their children watch things like this.

I’ve always played FIFA since I was a kid as well.

Which of your team-mates would you choose to partner in another sport and a game?

If it was basketball, it would be Dominic Solanke because I know he’s really good at it.

If it was FIFA, probably Dom as well because I know he is a big gamer.

And which of your team-mates would you choose to play against in a game?

Who’s going to be bad?

Junior Stanislas and David Brooks.

Who is the greatest Danish player of your era?

It’s difficult to pick one.

I’ll go with a top three of Michael Laudrup, Peter Schmeichel and Christian Eriksen.

Are you a good cook?

No, I can’t cook!

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