Phil Neville denied he is sexist and said he has huge respect for women, in his first media appearance after being appointed England women’s head coach.
Neville apologised a day after taking the job for past tweets about women.
“I had to – I didn’t like the words used,” said the 41-year-old. “I’m not a sexist. I’ve lived my life right.”
The appointment has been criticised because of Neville’s lack of coaching and women’s football experience but he denied the job was a “stepping stone”.
“I’m England manager. Any job after this will be a step down,” Neville told BBC sports editor Dan Roan.
The former England defender has only ever managed one game – at Salford City, a team he co-owns – but has coached former club Manchester United, England Under-21s and Spanish side Valencia.
“I’m qualified for the job, I have a [coaching] Pro Licence. It’s to work in all aspects of football.
“I’ve worked at elite level. I’ve worked abroad. Some of the players are world class. I’m best qualified for this job.
“I didn’t get it by default. I didn’t just get handed the keys to women’s football. This is not something that has been plucked from the top of a tree.
“I had to undergo stringent tests and presentations, six and seven-hour interviews with the Football Association, psychometric profiling – it was a long process. But ultimately I’m the best man for the job and shouldn’t be embarrassed about that.”
- Will Neville be a success as Lionesses boss?
- Neville sorry for controversial tweets
The Football Association said last week that Neville would not be charged over his controversial tweets.
In one tweet, he suggested women would be too “busy making breakfast/getting kids ready” to read his messages, while other users picked up on comments he had made when interacting with his sister and with his wife – and one in which he joked he had “just battered the wife”.
“The words in 2018 are wrong, the words in 2011 were wrong. It’s not a reflection of my true character,” Neville added.
The former Manchester United and Everton full-back told BBC Sport the reference saying he had “battered the wife” was in relation to beating her at sport on holiday.
‘One of the best moments of my career’
Neville met the Lionesses players for the first time at a training camp in Spain last week, and described doing so as one of the “best moments” of his career.
Asked if he had ever watched a women’s football match, he said: “I’ve seen Man City women’s games, Valencia women’s games.
“I know women’s football. Do I know everything? No. I learn fast.
“At Valencia I knew three players, and in a week I knew everything about the club and in six months I was fluent in Spanish. I’m a fast learner.”
England women were losing semi-finalists under Mark Sampson at the 2017 European Championship and finished third at the 2015 World Cup.
Neville said it was up to him to take the team to the “next level”.
“[I have] immense pride and excitement to take over the third best team in world,” he said. “We have players who have desire and determination to be the best.
“The foundations are so strong, performances have been great.”
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