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Hosting 2021 Euros can inspire next generation of female players – Neville

The 16-team tournament will be staged at eight venues across the country.

Will Fran Kirby and the Lionesses be celebrating a home success in 2021? (Andrew Matthews/PA)
Will Fran Kirby and the Lionesses be celebrating a home success in 2021? (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Phil Neville is hoping hosting the 2021 Women’s European Championship can do for England’s future generations what Euro ’96 did for the men’s game in this country.

UEFA’s executive committee confirmed on Monday that the 16-team tournament would be staged at eight venues across the country before the final takes place at Wembley.

No other countries went up against the Football Association’s bid to bring the Euros back to England for the first time since 2005.

England boss Neville, whose team will qualify automatically for the finals, has set his eyes on the big prize, but also the rewards that could follow.

He told Sky Sports News: “I’m desperate to be involved in that tournament – that would be another step on the ladder for the progression of women’s football.

“I was involved in Euro ’96 and I learnt then the impact that it had on the country, and I think this can have a similar impact, maybe in a little bit of a smaller way, in terms of the growth of the women’s game.”

The proposed venues are Wembley – which will host the final – Brentford Community Stadium, Brighton’s Amex Stadium, Stadium MK in Milton Keynes, Manchester City’s Academy Stadium, the City Ground in Nottingham, Rotherham’s New York Stadium, Bramall Lane in Sheffield and St Mary’s Stadium, the home of Southampton.

England Women manager Phil Neville says hosting the European Championship can inspire the next generation of female players (Nick Potts/PA).

Neville, who was himself capped 59 times by England, was inspired by the nation’s performances at major tournaments and is convinced his players can do the same for today’s youngsters.

He said: “I’ll go back to what I said at the start, that yes, we want to do well and we want to inspire, but the biggest way to inspire is to win World Cups, to win Olympic Games, to win European Championships.

“If we do that and people say, ‘You know what, I remember turning on a channel and seeing Lucy Bronze, Steph Houghton or Fran Kirby scoring the winning goal in a World Cup final, that’s the only way to inspire the next generation.

“I was inspired by watching Bryan Robson, by watching Gary Lineker score in the ’86 World Cup with a plaster cast on his arm and my dad woke me up at 2am in the morning to come downstairs.

“That’s what inspires generations and that’s what we want to do in the summer.”

FA chief executive Martin Glenn said hosting the tournament would offer England “a tremendous opportunity to celebrate women’s football”.

He added in a statement from the governing body: “We cannot underestimate the positive impact this tournament will have on inspiring the next generation.”

Baroness Sue Campbell, the FA’s director of women’s football, said: “This is fantastic news for the FA, the country and, crucially, for the future development of girls’ and women’s football in England.

“A home Euro in 2021 has the potential to be a pivotal moment in the development of the women’s game in England.”

Sports minister Mims Davies said: “Women’s football is booming, with investment, participation and support greater than ever before. Playing host to the European Championships will give us a new platform to inspire the nation and a new generation of young footballers.”

Since being eliminated at the group stage when hosting the Euros for the first time 13 years ago, England have finished as runners-up in 2009 and semi-finalists in 2017. They made another group-stage exit in 2013.

While England now automatically have a place in the 2021 finals as hosts, the draw for the qualifying group stage will take place on February 22.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said at a press conference in Dublin: “We saw what a success the 2017 Euros were in Holland and how the women’s game has grown. I think they will be an even bigger success in England. I’m very optimistic and I’m looking forward to it.”

Press Association


From Belfast Telegraph