England call would be realisation of childhood dream for Spurs’ Ashleigh Neville

By Sports Desk December 07, 2023

Tottenham full-back Ashleigh Neville will forever be proud of fulfilling one lifelong goal but has not yet given up hope of achieving a dream England call-up.

It was only four years ago that Neville quit her teaching job in Birmingham to concentrate fully on football after Spurs’ promotion to the Women’s Super League.

Fast forward to the present and Neville has become one of the division’s most consistent performers, despite playing across numerous positions and amid a rollercoaster period for Tottenham.

Neville played a key role in Spurs’ fifth-place finish in 2022 but still missed out on Sarina Wiegman’s England squad for the Euros and, while her club battled relegation last season, the 30-year-old’s performances remained excellent.

Wiegman acknowledged 12 months ago that Neville was doing a “really good job”, but the emergence of Chelsea’s Niamh Charles alongside system tweaks and forward Rachel Daly being used as a makeshift left-back has meant she remains uncapped.

Nevertheless, Neville is full of pride at being in her fifth season as a full-time professional and relishing life under new Tottenham boss Robert Vilahamn.

“I always wanted to play for England,” Neville told the PA news agency ahead of next week’s north London derby with Arsenal at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

“That was kind of my dream when I was a kid, but I never thought I would play professional football when I was a young girl because it wasn’t possible back then.

“I am obviously proud of where I have come from and where I’m at.

“Since Robert’s come in, it has probably been the most consistent I have been as a player looking back at stats and games.

“If that call-up comes, it comes, and it would be nice to play for my country, but we have a great team so I can’t really fault the (England) girls for what they do.

“I am just happy at Spurs and that’s where my head and focus is at, but if that call comes then great.”

Neville impressed during Tottenham’s battle to stay in the WSL last season, scoring three times and providing two assists while playing in both full-back positions or further forward under ex-boss Rehanne Skinner.

Vilahamn’s arrival this summer has resulted in a shift of philosophy, with Spurs eager to dominate possession and attack at every opportunity.

It helped Vilahamn make a flying start, but sixth-placed Tottenham suffered a chastening second defeat of the season before the international break when they went down 7-0 at Manchester City.

Neville said: “We spoke at the end of the game and a few people were disheartened, which I understand because no one likes losing and especially not when it’s 7-0, but I said in the huddle this won’t define our season.

“It is one game out of the eight we’ve played and we’ve had a really good start. We can’t sit on it. We have to park it and move on and that’s what the girls are ready to do.”

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Tottenham Hotspur Women (@spurswomen)

 

Life does not get any easier for Spurs with Manchester United coming up at home on Sunday before two fixtures with Arsenal next week.

The second date with Arsenal on Saturday, December 16 will take place at the men’s 62,850-seater Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

“When I first came here, this match wasn’t necessarily a big thing for the women’s team,” Neville reflected.

“I think we have come a long way since then.

“I can remember the first game we played with Arsenal (in 2019), we lost 10-0 and then the season before last we got a draw and had a close game.

“So it will be a really good game and I love the north London derby. They are a battle, but I am all about putting in a big tackle and playing in front of a big crowd so it’s great for the game.

“All the girls believe. People say we’re the underdogs, but I don’t look at us like that. We are just as good as Arsenal.”

Related items

  • Trafford Council ‘looking forward’ to working with Man United on stadium plan Trafford Council ‘looking forward’ to working with Man United on stadium plan

    Trafford Council is looking forward to working with Manchester United co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe on his ambitious plans to regenerate the south of the city.

    Ratcliffe set out two routes to providing United with a stadium which he feels would befit the club’s status – either a redevelopment of Old Trafford or building a brand-new stadium which would be a northern rival to Wembley.

    Ratcliffe sees the extra revenue generated from either option as a key factor in helping United consistently challenge north-west rivals Manchester City and Liverpool for domestic and European honours, having vowed on Wednesday to “knock both of them off their perch”.

    He anticipated redevelopment would cost in the region of £1billion, while he estimated a new stadium and regeneration project would be £2billion. He saw no reason why state funding should not partially cover the cost of the bigger project, which he believes could transform the area around the stadium.

    United’s existing leadership have been working alongside Trafford Council on its Trafford Wharfside development plan, and council leader Tom Ross was excited by Ratcliffe’s vision.

    “We’ve got two visions that are coming together – a potential brand new stadium as discussed by Sir Jim, and also the vision we have for housing regeneration, bringing this area back to life,” Ross told BBC Radio Manchester on Thursday.

    “There’s a lot of excitement in Manchester United about this as a key partner of ours. We look forward to working together to deliver those plans.”

    Ratcliffe said on Wednesday that a task force – which could include former United defender Gary Neville – was being formed to consider the feasibility of the new stadium project. The PA news agency understands Trafford Council expects to be invited to join too.

    United have been urged to actively involve local residents and small business owners in their plans as they consider how to proceed.

    Dr Tom Bason, a sports legacy and football finance expert at Coventry University, highlighted research which found such groups had not been properly consulted in previous stadium-led regeneration projects, and ended up being priced out of the area.

    “(Proper consultation) is the sort of thing that needs to happen from the start otherwise you do end up with this sort of displacement that we saw around the Olympic Stadium (in east London),” Dr Bason told PA.

    “It’s not always intentional, but if you see house prices or rent increases going up 20, 30, 40 per cent, although you might not be kicked out because your house or flat is getting knocked down, you might still have to leave that area because you can’t afford to live there any more.

    “The same happens with businesses – multinationals start coming in, you start to get chains of coffee shops rather than a local café for example.

    “It’s not always intentional but if these sort of local community groups, residents and businesses aren’t part of the process, it is what happens every time.”

  • Wataru Endo: Carabao Cup win would give Liverpool ‘extra energy’ for more titles Wataru Endo: Carabao Cup win would give Liverpool ‘extra energy’ for more titles

    Liverpool midfielder Wataru Endo believes victory in the Carabao Cup final will provide the extra energy required to maintain their challenge on three other fronts.

    Sunday’s meeting is a repeat of the Reds’ 2022 encounter with Chelsea at Wembley which Jurgen Klopp’s side eventually won 11-10 on penalties with only one player – goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga – missing.

    However, only four of that Liverpool starting XI are likely to be in this weekend’s team – Mohamed Salah would be a fifth but is currently doubtful with a minor issue after making his comeback from a hamstring problem at Brentford – as a result of some high-profile departures and a raft of injuries.

    The extent of the injury crisis was laid bare in Wednesday’s 4-1 win over Luton, in which Klopp named a bench with three defenders and four academy players, and should that situation continue it could seriously hamper Liverpool’s bid to contend in the Premier League – which they lead – the FA Cup and Europa League.

    But Endo said nothing gives players a boost like winning a trophy and for a large number of the Reds’ team – the Japan international included – Sunday will be their first chance at the club.

    “If we could win this first one I think it would have a really positive impact on the other competitions we’re competing in,” said the £16million summer signing.

    “Winning at Wembley would give us extra energy for the challenges ahead. I’m so excited to play there. It will be my first time at such a special stadium.

    “It would mean a lot to me. It would be my first title with Liverpool and I’m focused on doing everything I can to help the team win the final.

    “The manager has spoken to us about staying positive and needing to show that we are Liverpool. We did that against Luton.

    “We don’t think too much about injured players, we just focus on the next game in front of us.”

    Sunday is the first significant milestone in Klopp’s long goodbye after he announced his decision to leave at the end of the season.

    Endo was away at the Asian Cup when the news broke but the 31-year-old, who has proved his critics wrong after being viewed as an emergency stop-gap holding midfielder, is keen to repay the manager’s faith.

    “I was sad to hear about that. I really enjoy playing for him and playing football the way he plays,” he said.

    “It’s disappointing but I really want us to achieve titles for him before he goes.

    “I’ve only played for Jurgen for one season. Others have been here a lot longer so maybe they have more emotion but he has helped me so much.”

    View this post on Instagram

    A post shared by Liverpool Football Club (@liverpoolfc)

    After a tough introduction to English football the former Stuttgart midfielder has cemented his place as the team’s anchor, fulfilling a role which Alexis Mac Allister had been asked to do after Fabinho departed to Saudi Arabia in the summer.

    “It’s hard to play for Liverpool. There’s always a lot of pressure,” Endo added.

    “Playing in the Premier League is tough but this is something I wanted for a long time and I try to make sure I enjoy it and do my best every time.

    “I feel like I’ve developed over the course of the season and that has helped to give me confidence.”

  • David Beckham’s Inter Miami out to become ‘big club’ across the world David Beckham’s Inter Miami out to become ‘big club’ across the world

    David Beckham’s Inter Miami want to become one of the world’s top clubs on the field and a globally-recognised brand like the New York Yankees away from it.

    The Manchester United and England great has been a gamechanger for the ever-evolving Major League Soccer since swapping Real Madrid for the LA Galaxy in 2007.

    That unique deal gave Beckham the option to purchase an expansion club at a discounted price, leading to the foundation of Inter Miami six years ago.

    There have been bumps in the road since the team’s first season in 2020 but the arrival of Lionel Messi – arguably the greatest player of all time – last summer has taken them to a new level.

    Former Barcelona team-mates Sergio Busquets, Jordi Alba and Luis Suarez have followed the Argentina skipper to a team that co-owner Beckham wants to aim for the stars.

    Inter Miami assistant manager Javier Morales said: “I’m the fifth employee of this club so I know this club from the bottom.

    “When I first spoke to David, he said he thinks this could be a big club. Obviously he came from Man Utd and he used to play for big teams. That is his idea.

    “He wants Inter Miami to be a top team not just in the country but also in the world.”

    View this post on Instagram

    A post shared by Inter Miami CF (@intermiamicf)

    Ambitious Miami’s quality saw them installed as the overwhelming bookmakers’ favourites to end 2024 as MLS Cup champions ahead of Wednesday’s curtain raiser.

    They opened with a 2-0 win against Real Salt Lake and their favourites tag marks quite the turnaround from last term, when their memorable Leagues Cup triumph came during a dreadful MLS campaign.

    “Right now the mentality is different and they (the former Barcelona players) used to win everything, they used to win a lot,” said Morales, who has risen from academy coach to his current role as assistant to Tata Martino.

    “They arrived last June with the club and the expectations for us here are high. For them it’s not going to be an issue.

    “For the kids and the young players in the team it could be a little bit different but to have those players guide them is going to be a good mix.”

    Beckham’s grand plans for Miami are bearing fruit off the field as well as on it.

    The Florida outfit was the most-searched sports team on Google in 2023 and recently returned from a pre-season tour of Hong Kong, Japan and Saudi Arabia.

    Their eye-catching pink shirts are flying off the shelves as Messi’s arrival and the draw of Miami combine to help transform the team into a growing global brand.

    Chief business officer Xavier Asensi believes that the unique combination creates an aura around a club that means “the sky is the limit”.

    “Do you like baseball? I don’t,” Barcelona’s former chief commercial officer said. “But do you have a cap with the NY of the Yankees? How cool is that? So, imagine if you like baseball… for me, that is the potential we have.

    “We have the potential of the sexiness, the brand that can be a fashion. People are wearing it and they know what it is.

    “Sometimes people wearing the Yankees cap think it is New York and they like New York. But it is the baseball team. We have that potential.

    “In order to unlock that, only the best are enough. We need to surround ourselves with the best people to unlock the potential that we have as a brand. This is not just football, we can go bigger and better.”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.