Phil Neville is to step down as England Women head coach with immediate effect, the Football Association has announced.
The 43-year-old, who was previously due to depart the role in July at the end of his contract, is set to become the new boss of Inter Miami, the PA news agency understands.
The Major League Soccer outfit are co-owned by Neville’s former Manchester United and England team-mate David Beckham, who is also his fellow co-owner of League Two side Salford.
Thank you for everything! 👏❤️
Phil Neville is to step down as head coach of the #Lionesses with immediate effect.
— Lionesses (@Lionesses) January 18, 2021
The FA says it will confirm the name of an interim head coach “shortly”, adding: “A recruitment process had already been under way with assistant coach Rehanne Skinner’s departure to join Tottenham Hotspur last November.”
The governing body last summer announced that Neville’s successor will be Holland boss Sarina Wiegman, but the plan has been for her not to start work in the role until September, having managed the Dutch at the Tokyo Olympics.
It also remains to be seen what the FA do in terms of somebody managing a Great Britain team at the Olympics, a job Neville had been in line for.
Following his appointment as England boss in January 2018, Neville went on to guide the team to the semi-finals of the 2019 World Cup, and they won the SheBelieves Cup earlier that year.
Neville said in the FA’s statement announcing his departure: “It has been an honour to manage England and I have enjoyed three of the best years of my career with the FA and the Lionesses.
“The players who wear the England shirt are some of the most talented and dedicated athletes I have ever had the privilege to work with. They have challenged me and improved me as a coach, and I am very grateful to them for the fantastic memories we have shared.
“I’d like to thank the FA for the tremendous backing they have given me, in particular Sue Campbell (the FA’s director of women’s football) and my talented support staff whose energy, commitment and enthusiasm has been crucial to helping us make the progress we have.
“I wish England Women every success in the future and look forward to following their journey in the years to come.”
Campbell said: “I want to pay tribute to Phil for his significant contribution during his three years with the FA.
“After steadying the ship at a challenging period, he helped us to win the SheBelieves Cup for the first time, reach the World Cup semi-finals and qualify for the Olympics.
"Given his status as a former Manchester United and England player, he did much to raise the profile of our team. He has used his platform to champion the women’s game, worked tirelessly to support our effort to promote more female coaches and used his expertise to develop many of our younger players.
“Given the positive ongoing dialogue we have been having with Phil, we will be in a position to provide an update soon on an interim appointment, as well as provide a further update on the coaching situation regarding Team GB.”
FA chief executive Mark Bullingham said: “Phil can be proud of what he has achieved as England head coach, and I am sure he will continue to progress in future.
“Although he is moving on, I know Phil will remain a champion for women’s football and a supporter of all we are trying to do to grow the game even further.”
— Inter Miami CF (@InterMiamiCF) January 7, 2021
The announcement that Neville was set to leave the post in July 2021 came in April last year, following the decision to postpone the England-hosted European Championship from 2021 to 2022 as the sporting calendar was impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
The team had just had a disappointing campaign at the SheBelieves Cup, where two defeats made it seven losses in 11 games. They have not played an international match since, with friendlies against Germany and Norway being cancelled.
Neville is set to succeed Diego Alonso at Inter Miami after the Uruguayan parted ways with the club earlier this month.
Under Alonso, Inter Miami’s maiden MLS season last year saw them finish 10th in the Eastern Conference and then eliminated from the MLS Cup play-offs in the ‘play-in’ round.