Phil Neville says he’s “honoured” after being appointed head coach of England Women, and believes the Lionesses could achieve “something special” after signing a three-and-a-half year deal.
Neville’s contract is until 2021, taking him through to the end of the 2021 UEFA Women’s Championship campaign, reports BBC Sport.
His appointment has been met with some negativity given his limited coaching background, as he’s only coached in two brief failed spells at Manchester United and Valencia.
The FA have nevertheless shown faith in the former England, Manchester United and Everton defender, who will take charge of a new-look coaching set-up being put in place featuring Mo Marley and Casey Stoney
He’ll replace Mark Sampson, who was sacked from his position following evidence of “inappropriate and unacceptable behaviour” in a previous role. Mo Marley was appointed interim manager but missed out on getting the job on a permanent basis.
Neville is a UEFA Pro Licence holder, and reportedly impressed The FA with his experience and plans to build the Lionesses’ recent rise to prominence. England Women reached the semi-finals in consecutive international tournaments – the 2015 World Cup and 2017 European Championship.
The 41-year-old spoke about what an honour it was to take charge of the Lionesses, saying: “I am honoured to be given the chance to lead England. With the new coaching team we are putting in place, we can help the players build on their great progress in recent years.
“This squad is on the verge of something special and I believe I can lead them to the next level. I can’t wait to get out on the training pitch and down to work with an elite group of players at the top of their game.
“I am also passionate about working within the wider set-up at St. George’s Park, with influential people such as Mo Marley and Casey Stoney, and with the support of Baroness Sue Campbell and the wider women’s game.
“There is a commitment to excellence that has paid dividends in recent years and I know we can continue the great growth of women’s football inspired by the Lionesses. There is no greater honour than representing your country and it will be a privilege to do it again.”
Neville doesn’t have much to add to his managerial CV, but as a player he won 59 caps for England, and enjoyed a decorated career for Manchester United. He won six Premier League titles, three FA Cups and the UEFA Champions League.
He went on to join Everton, becoming club captain and making more than 300 appearances. Neville could have a tough start to his new role, however, as England will face the top-two teams in the world – United States and Germany. They will also lock horns with France in the She Believes Cup, on March 1.