Phil Neville has been named as the new manager of the England women’s national team.
Neville, 41, has been appointed as the Lionesses head coach through the 2021 European Championships.
The former Manchester United, Everton and England defender has previously been a first-team coach at United and an assistant manager at La Liga side Valencia, but this is his first involvement in the women’s game.
Speaking about his appointment on the FA’s website, Neville was thrilled to begin his new job.
“I am honored 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,’ Neville said. “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.”
Neville added that “there is no greater honor than representing your country and it will be a privilege to do it again” as he represented England at EURO 96 and EURO 2000, winning 59 caps in his nine-year international career.
England haven’t had a manager since Mark Sampson was sacked amid controversy in September 2017 due to previous “inappropriate behavior” when he was manager of Bristol Academy, at the same time as allegations from forward Eni Aluko swirled around Sampson and his coaching staff as the FA apologized for Sampson’s comments which were “discriminatory on the grounds of race.”
The Lionesses are currently ranked No.3 in the world and finished in third-place at the 2015 World Cup in Canada. They were also knocked out at the semifinal stage of the 2017 European Championships in the Netherlands last summer. Neville will have a lot of work to do to adapt to the women’s game quickly, but his high-profile could see even more interest in the England women’s team as attendance figures continue to rise for national team games.
Neville’s first game in charge of the Lionesses is a 2019 World Cup qualifier on Apr. 6 against Wales at Southampton’s St Mary’s Stadium.