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Phil Neville: Chance to work with David Beckham in MLS ‘too good to turn down’

Steve Brenner
·3-min read
David Beckham and Phil Neville — Phil Neville: Chance to work with David Beckham in MLS ‘too good to turn down’ - REUTERS
David Beckham and Phil Neville — Phil Neville: Chance to work with David Beckham in MLS ‘too good to turn down’ - REUTERS

Phil Neville on Friday night said he had no regrets about swapping the chance to lead Team GB in the Olympics for the opportunity to manage David Beckham’s Major League Soccer franchise in Miami.

Neville turned his back on the Football Association to move to south Florida and help his former Manchester United team-mate following a disappointing first season in MLS, in which the team won just seven games before losing in the first round of the play-offs to fellow newcomers Nashville.

The FA believed Neville, 44, was ready to take charge of Team GB in Tokyo even though his three-year reign as England women’s coach, in which the Lionesses reached the World Cup semi-finals in 2019, was coming to an end, with Sarina Wiegman lined up to take charge in September.

Yet once Beckham sacked Diego Alonso as Inter Miami coach this month and made a move for the former England midfielder, with whom he came through the ranks at Old Trafford, Neville had no hesitation about moving on immediately.

“I had a fantastic job and worked with some fantastic people,” he said. “The players were some of the best I have worked with and I was sad to say goodbye to them.

“But sometimes in your career you get opportunities you can’t turn down and when this opportunity came up, I sat down with my boss, Sue Campbell, at the FA and I said, ‘Look, I have six months left on my contract. Yes, we have an Olympics coming up, but this is too good for me to turn down’.

“It’s always something I aspired to; to work in America and work for a great football club. Sue didn’t stand in my way and I have to say a massive thank you to her for allowing me to follow my dream.

“I was sad to leave such a great organisation, who will continue to do well, and they have a coach coming in who will do a fantastic job and hopefully go on to get the gold medal we have all strived for the last 10 to 15 years.

“But ultimately, in life you only get one opportunity and this was my big one that I had to grasp.”

Neville’s appointment on a two-year deal surprised many in the United States, with Beckham being accused of simply handing a job to his old friend, which the former England captain denied.

“It’s got nothing to do with being my friend,” said Beckham, who finally returned to Miami at Christmas after watching last season from his base in the UK.

“We employ the best people and we are running a serious business here. Phil’s experience comes as a player, working with some of the best managers and players in the world and in some of the best academies in the Premier League. This has nothing to do with friendship. It’s about him being the right man for the job.”

”David is my friend and now he is my boss,” Neville added. “There will be tough conversations but we share the same goals. Hopefully, this will be one of the best chapters of our friendship.”