Phil Neville lifted six Premier League titles and the Champions League in a decorated playing career, but has described the chance to lead England’s women into a World Cup as “the biggest and best thing” in his career to date.
World Cups had eluded Neville until now. An 11-year international career reaped 59 caps and he played in three European Championships, but he missed out on making a World Cup squad on three different occasions.
“England to me has always felt like unfinished business,” Neville told The Times.
“The biggest disappointment of my career, with so many incredible players, was that we didn’t get a trophy or even a final. I want to have success with England. I’ve wanted it all my life. And with these players, we’ve got a great chance.”
Prior to Neville’s arrival in the women’s game to take charge of his country last year, England had already laid the foundations for great expectations this summer by reaching the semi-finals of the 2015 World Cup and Euro 2017.
That excitement has only grown since England beat the world champions United States in their own backyard to win the She Believes Cup in March for the first time.
Rather than be cowered by the pressure, Neville has been keen to embrace the opportunity to explode the interest in women’s football across England in the next month.
“You want someone who is going to come in and say I believe in you because you are all the best. We are going to win because we are the best,” said England forward Fran Kirby.
“The trust and confidence he puts in every single player before a game, it inspires you to push on that extra 10 percent and that’s what you want as a manager.”