Phil Neville thinks England's Euro 2022 win will change the course of women's participation in sport, and feels immensely proud of the achievement by "his girls" as they won a major trophy for the first time in 56 years courtesy of a Chloe Kelly winner in the 110th minute of the final against Germany.
Neville had previously worked with these players as he took charge of the Lionesses in 2018 and guided them to SheBelieves Cup in 2019 before reaching the semi-finals of the World Cup later that year.
However, their form went south and he decided to move to the United States to take charge of Inter Miami in January 2021.
What did Neville say about the Euro triumph?
Neville was watching the final in the company of David Beckham and got extremely emotional after England bagged the trophy at Wembley in front of 87,192 fans.
"That’s changed women’s sport, never mind women's soccer,” Neville said. “There’s only one word, just immense pride.
"I watched the game with David and we jumped up, we celebrated and we felt just an immense pride watching it. I did feel emotionally attached because I always say, 'These are my girls. These are the girls that inspired me and made me a better manager.'"
Neville handed Kelly her debut against Austria in November 2018 and added: "She was just a little baby at the time. She was literally shaking as I put her on the field. Now she scores a goal in the Euro final. It was an emotional moment for me.
"I was going to say 90 minutes but it was extra time as well. It was an emotional moment because all these girls have inspired me and 87,000 people at Wembley Stadium and I think 20 million people back home in England watching [on TV]. That's changed women's sport, never mind women's soccer."
🏆 OUR ENGLAND. OUR CHAMPIONS. 🏆 pic.twitter.com/gf4BHUd5fW— Lionesses (@Lionesses) July 31, 2022
Neville - England victory is a wake-up call for the US
The United States, four-time World Cup winners and four-time Olympic gold medallists, are the No.1 country in the FIFA rankings. However, Neville feels that other teams are catching up with them and the USWNT need to pull up their socks once again.
"America was always the standard-bearer,” Neville said. “I feel as if the rest of the world has caught up and maybe America’s maybe a little bit complacent now. Maybe this has given them a we-need-to-kick-on-again [feeling].
"I always felt that eventually, the world would kick up to the incredible coaching development opportunities for females in sport in America.
"Me, when I got the job, I was thinking we need to be like America on and off the pitch. I think the rest of the world is catching up very quickly and if not in some aspects taking over."
Neville's successor, Sarina Wiegman, will be offered a new contract which should see her stay at the helm of the team till 2025, including the World Cup next summer. The Lionesses are already on the cusp of qualifying for the marquee event as they lead UEFA qualifying Group D.