Women’s World Cup: England goalkeeper Carly Telford reveals how Phil Neville became her ‘father figure’

Carly Telford believes Phil Neville has become a father figure to her, Fran Kirby and their fellow England internationals after the emotional scenes which followed their Women’s World Cup victory over Argentina.

Telford lost her mother Yvonne to cancer last year while Kirby’s mother Denise died when she was only 14-years-old. Kirby broke down in tears after the final whistle on Friday night, which would have been her mother’s birthday.

Neville comforted Kirby and dedicated the victory to her and Telford’s mothers in a post-match huddle. “At the end he said: ‘I don’t want to say this but I know your mum would be watching and I know your mum would be watching’,” Telford revealed.

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Neville’s father, Neville, passed away in 2015 and Telford believes that experience has not only helped the England head coach to reach out to her and Kirby, but he has also forged a strong bond with the rest of his players.

“Look, Phil is a fantastic guy, I have said before he is like a dad figure if I am honest,” she said. “He lost his dad not that long ago, it’s hard for him because he would want his dad to see him as an England manager and see how proud he is of him. 


England player ratings vs Argentina





1/11 Carly Telford – 6 out of 10

2/11 Lucy Bronze – 7 out of 10

3/11 Abbie McManus – 6 out of 10

4/11 Steph Houghton – 6 out of 10

5/11 Alex Greenwood – 7 out of 10

6/11 Jade Moore – 6 out of 10

7/11 Jill Scott – 6 out of 10

8/11 Nikita Parris – 6 out of 10

9/11 Fran Kirby – 6 out of 10

10/11 Beth Mead – 8 out of 10

11/11 Jodie Taylor – 7 out of 10

1/11 Carly Telford – 6 out of 10

2/11 Lucy Bronze – 7 out of 10

3/11 Abbie McManus – 6 out of 10

4/11 Steph Houghton – 6 out of 10

5/11 Alex Greenwood – 7 out of 10

6/11 Jade Moore – 6 out of 10

7/11 Jill Scott – 6 out of 10

8/11 Nikita Parris – 6 out of 10

9/11 Fran Kirby – 6 out of 10

10/11 Beth Mead – 8 out of 10

11/11 Jodie Taylor – 7 out of 10

“I had the conversation with him, I said they will all be sat upstairs together having a beer, my mum would probably be sat with her head behind a pillow no doubt, but the three of them upstairs will be sat watching us, looking over us and wishing us well.”

Friday was Telford’s first appearance at a major international tournament for England, despite travelling with the squad to their last four finals. “I have waited a terribly long time for that and if I’m honest I wouldn’t change my journey,” the goalkeeper said. 

“I wouldn’t change who I am, I’ve probably been put on this path for a reason and here I am I’ve finally done it. I said I would get there one day and I did but for me, I wouldn’t change it, I’d sit on the bench, I’d do it all again if it meant this team won.”

Having kept a clean sheet against Argentina, Telford may well start England’s third and final group game against Japan in Nice on Wednesday if Neville decides against recalling Karen Bardsley, her main rival for the No 1 spot.

Neville’s rotation policy has faced criticism from some quarters, including the World Cup-winning former United States goalkeeper Hope Solo, but Telford said: “Phil knows what he is doing. He has rotated since he came in. 

“Since day one he has never really had a set 11 that he plays, that’s just how he works. It keeps the opposition guessing, it keeps you guys guessing and gives you something to talk about. At the same time he trusts his whole team. 

“There’s not a one point you think you’re going out there not prepared because we’ve all had time, we’ve all had minutes and we know he believes in us which makes you feel an extra foot taller.”

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