Phillips congratulated the first Sunderland player to reach 20 league goals in a season since he achieved the feat back in 2000.
But the Black Cats post-war record goalscorer, given a rousing reception by the Wearside fans on what was likely his last appearance at the Stadium of Light, thinks Bent will have similar problems to those he faced.
Despite earning the European golden boot and scoring 130 goals in 235 games for Sunderland, Phillips never played a full 90 minutes in an England shirt.
And even though he was rewarded for a sensational return in his first top-flight season with a call up for Euro 2000, the 36-year-old never appeared during the finals.
I would take players to the World Cup who are on form,
said Phillips. The year I scored 30 in the Premier League I went to Euro 2000 when perhaps a lot of people said I shouldn't go.
Darren is a natural finisher, you saw that against us. It looks like Jermain Defoe will be out for a fair bit with a hamstring strain, so all he can do is keep impressing.
Playing for Sunderland does come into a little bit. I said that when I was here. If me and him were playing for a top four team we would not even be asked that question, we would be in there, no doubts.
It highlights what an achievement it is for him that he is playing in a team that's six or seven from the bottom of the league and he has managed to bag 21 goals. It is fantastic.
Bent has 20 in the league and while Phillips was touched by the reception he received from the Sunderland fans, he was also aware of the relationship the same supporters have with their new hero.
Bent might have cost £10m in the summer, but he has proven to be money well spent by manager Steve Bruce.
Before I signed for Sunderland from Watford I spoke with Glenn Roeder, who had spent many years in the North-East, and he said if you do well in the North-East you'd be loved, said Phillips.
Darren Bent is certainly loved up here now.
I don't want him to go on and break my records, I would like them to stand for a bit longer, but he's doing a good job and going about it well.
First and foremost Sunderland are lucky to have him this season because barring his goals it would be a different story for them, they would be in real trouble.
He is an excellent striker and, coming from Tottenham to here, he now has a manager who believes in him. He is playing week in and week out.
As a striker if you have those two things together it gives you masses of confidence. Sunderland's matchday programme has been rated the best in the country by the national Programme Monthly magazine.
Judged Best Read in the Premier League for the past two seasons, the latest award surpasses those accolades.
Red and White has now picked up the main award in its division four times, after previous success in the 1985/86 and 1997/98 Division One and 1999/00 Premier League seasons.