Phil Neville’s lame-duck period with the Lionesses is now over as he joins David Beckham’s Inter Miami. Sarina Weigman has been quite clear that she would not be leaving the Netherlands until after the Olympics, leaving the Lionesses rudderless until she takes over in September.
The Football Association have moved quickly to find a short term solution by appointing Norwegian, Hege Riise and former Canada international Rhian Wilkinson in a support role.
Riise said, “This is a proud and ambitious team. I look forward to working with [them] and I am confident of making a positive impact when I meet up with the squad in February.”
Presently the Lionesses have no friendlies planned so Riise will be in charge of the Lionesses’ training camp in February.
The FA added that a decision on who leads the future training camps before Weigman takes over permanently has yet to be decided, although with all the uncertainty and upheaval, it makes sense to maintain some sort of consistency and retain the pair. After all, it’s only just over twelve months under England host the European Championships.
For those still new to the women’s game, Riise is considered one of the best players of her generation and is one of only three women in the world to win the World Cup, the European Championships and Olympic gold with Norway. Riise also amassed a staggering 188 caps for Norway, the most in the country’s history for both men and women!!
Riise was a technically good and hard-working midfielder, who always appeared to demonstrate a good tactical understanding of the game. So the likes of Jordan Nobbs, Ella Toone and Georgia Stanway will no doubt benefit from working with such a talent.
Aged 23-years-old Riose picked up her first silverware, the Norwegian Cup with Setskog-Høland in 1992. Setskog-Høland now participates under the banner of LSK Kvinner FK after joining forces with Lillestrøm SK in 2010.
In 1993, Riise became the first Norwegian player to be named Europe’s best female player by UEFA. The same award was given to Ada Hegerberg in 2016.
After spells in Japan and back in Norway, Riise was drafted by the Carolina Courage in the Women’s United Soccer Association 2000 Foreign Draft, Riise was twice named in the leagues MVP and led the Courage to a WUSA Founders Cup title in 2002.
Since hanging up her boots, Riise was assistant coach of the United States and was credited with playing an important role in the team’s Olympic gold at London 2012.
More recently she’s had a huge success coaching with LSK Kvinner securing the club six consecutive league titles between 2011 and 2017. Last December Riise was nominated for the FIFA Best Coach of the Year award, losing out to incoming Lionesses boss, Weigman.
The FA stated that the pair had agreed “short-term contracts having applied for the assistant coach role made vacant by Rehanne Skinner’s move to Tottenham Hotspur last November”.
Wilkinson won 181 caps for Canada and helped them win back-to-back bronze medals at the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games before turning to coaching.
Huge credit must go to the FA as this seems to be a positive and forward-thinking appointment. While both Riise and Wilkinson will know that their time with the Lionesses will be brief this will be a great opportunity to add to their growing reputation and maybe land them a top role within club management.
How this affects the Team GB head coach role is anyone’s guess? Although as players both Riise and Wilkinson have come away from Olympic games with medals so they could be a great option.