England Women

Phil Neville admits regret at how his England tenure ended

Ali Rampling
Neville admits he regrets letting down Sue Campbell
Neville admits he regrets letting down Sue Campbell / Alex Burstow/GettyImages

Phil Neville has admitted he regrets the way his tenure in charge of England ended as he felt he had let down FA Director of Women's Football Sue Campbell.

The former Manchester United defender led England to the World Cup semi-finals in 2019, but departed before the end of his three-year contract in order to take the Inter Miami job.

In April 2020, Neville announced he would not remain with the Lionesses beyond the end of his deal at that time, which ran until July 2021. He stated that he would see out his contract and was expected to lead Team GB at the delayed Tokyo Olympics, but in January 2021 chose to step down early to accept the role in MLS.

“I made a commitment to Sue [Campbell] to stay on for the Olympics in Tokyo,” Neville told The Times. “So I did feel as if I’d let Sue down, because I love that woman and I’d broken a promise. I didn’t like that.

“This job came up in the December and at the time it was 50-50 as to whether the Olympics would even go ahead, and I was concerned this opportunity might not come up again. Even so, it was one reason why the ending wasn’t great for me; there was some sadness after what had been a special period in my life.”

Neville was full of praise for the England team he managed and the experience he had in charge, and admitted he had ambitions of one day working in the women's game again.

“I’m not finished in women’s football,” the Inter Miami boss added. “At some point in the future I’m sure I’ll return to it. I still feel there is so much growth.”

Neville was particularly complimentary about Campbell for her steely determination to battle for equality for the women's team.

“Sue was great though; a massive influence," Neville continued. "She had the courage to fight the establishment. Sometimes it was exhausting. They’d give you something, and then take it away again.

"For example, they [the FA] said you can go business class to the SheBelieves Cup. The players were so chuffed because that’s what the men get. It was like giving them a million pounds. And Sue and I would be thinking, ‘We’ve won.’ And then maybe a month later, we’d be flying EasyJet to a game when the men’s under-21 team would be flying on a private charter.

"Every day, Sue would be battling away. We didn’t always agree on stuff but I found her inspiring.”