Phil Neville considers his role as manager of the England Women’s side to be an even greater achievement than all of the trophies he lifted at Manchester United.
During a distinguished playing career, a versatile performer collected six Premier League titles, three FA Cups and the Champions League.
He formed part of United’s history-making treble-winning squad of 1999 and was also capped on 59 occasions by his country.
Neville is, however, taking plenty of pride from his new coaching role, with leading the Lionesses from the dugout giving him more pleasure than anything he achieved on the field.
Having cut his teeth at the SheBelieves Cup in America, Neville told reporters ahead of a World Cup qualifying clash with Wales at Southampton’s St Mary’s Stadium: “Nothing beats putting on the England blazer.
“The games in SheBelieves were without doubt better than anything I had experienced as a player.
“You are the manager of the national side and it felt like a big moment for me and so does this now. It surpasses everything that I have ever achieved.”
He added on a move into management, having previously spent time as an assistant with La Liga side Valencia: “It was what I’ve always wanted to do. I’ve always wanted to be a manager.
“It was purely being a manager, of being in charge, being in that technical area, making substitutions. It was a better feeling than anything I’ve ever experienced.
“Lifting cups, lifting European… it was just the best feeling I have ever had.
“And I told the players after the game and I think they were surprised. But it was.”
Neville is now working hard to help the women’s game in England remain on an upward curve, with his former employers at Old Trafford ready to launch their own side into the second tier of the Women’s Super League (WSL).
“You have got to fit certain criteria. You can’t just come in and start playing on a park pitch,” Neville said of the Red Devils’ plans.
“You have got to have a certain infrastructure in place and I would have thought that Manchester United would want to do it properly.
“[United executive vice-chairman] Ed Woodward told me the other day that they’re going to do it properly and I am sure they will.
“Manchester United don’t do things badly – most of the time!”