'Emotional wreck' Neville says England have changed him
Phil Neville admitted his England players have "destroyed" him at the Women's World Cup as he opened up about his new-found sensitivity and the importance of creating a positive environment for the Lionesses to thrive in.
The former Manchester United and Everton midfielder said England's journey to the semi-finals, where they lost 2-1 to the United States, had left him more prone to teary moments and with a tendency to smile and relax, while describing his squad as "an unbelievable set of girls".
England lost 2-1 to Sweden in Saturday's third-place play-off – a game Neville wrote off as "a nonsense" - but he spoke about his pride in his players and his determination to reflect deeply on their performance.
"They destroyed me," Neville told 90min.com.
"They turned me into an emotional wreck. I cry at everything – I cry at watching Dirty Dancing now, and Pretty Woman. Because they are the most unbelievable set of girls, honestly they are.
"You think some days that they're not going to be up for today and they are. They drive each other forward. They inspire me.
"They've changed me. In life you're always at your best when you're happy and when you're having fun, and for these players to perform at their best I think at times I've needed to relax.
"I've always been a 100-miles-an-hour, eyeballs out, intense type of guy, but sometimes they like to see a smile, the smile gives them comfort and that feeling that you trust them and they've made me into that kind of person."
We’re home!— Lionesses (@Lionesses) July 7, 2019
Still hurting but so proud. Time for rest and recovery - we’ve got a busy few months ahead pic.twitter.com/xrxCKlCX3S
Neville has just short of two months to take stock of England's performance before the squad regroups for a friendly against Norway in September.
He indicated that the Lionesses, who were also eliminated from the World Cup at the semi-final stage in 2015, are playing the brand of football he has been aiming for since he took charge in January 2018.
"You have periods in the day when you think we were so close, and then you have periods where you get maybe a little bit angry that we should've done more," said Neville. "Maybe 12 months ago should we have been firmer.
"When you start reviewing some of the work you've done, some of your tactics or whatever, you do have to self-reflect. And I'm sure that after the tournament I'll probably do that more than anyone because ultimately the responsibility falls with me.
"We've still got to be proud of the work we've done and I'm proud of the way the players tried to play.
"The semi-final was enthralling. 56,000 people, my players playing the type of football I want them to play, every single player giving their all. I said to them at the start of the game, don't leave anything and they didn't leave anything. They left their hearts on the field."