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Old Trafford to host England’s Women’s Euro 2021 opener

Former Red Devil and current Lionesses boss, Phil Neville will return to his old stomping ground after it was added to the tournament’s schedule

England will play the opening match of UEFA Women’s Euro 2021 at Manchester United’s iconic Old Trafford venue on Wednesday, July 7.

It becomes the fourth Premier League ground to be added to the tournament’s list of venues, which also includes Wembley, the venue for the final on Sunday, August 1.

England’s other group games will take place at the homes of Brighton and Southampton, but they will kick off their campaign in Manchester – a place that means a lot to their head coach, Phil Neville.

The 43-year-old, who took charge of the Lionesses in January 2018, played almost 400 games across 11 seasons for United, having come through their academy to make his senior debut in 1994.

“It doesn’t get much bigger than managing your country at a home Euros and to have the opportunity to do so at a stadium that holds so many memories for me is huge,” Neville said.

“Old Trafford has a special place in my heart, but it is also one of the country’s most iconic football grounds, so today’s announcement is a significant one for the tournament.

“I’m looking forward to kicking off our campaign in Manchester and to offering fans across the country the chance to watch the elite women’s game on home turf next summer.”

That opening game could prove to be a record-breaking one, with the 74,879 capacity venue offering a chance to surpass the highest ever attendance at a Women’s Euros straight away.

That record is currently held by the 2013 final in Sweden, with 41,301 fans packing out the Friends Arena in Stockholm to watch Germany beat Norway 1-0, courtesy of an Anja Mittag goal.

Nadine Kessler was among the players who lifted the trophy that day and, now UEFA’s Head of Women’s Football, she is excited about the addition of another huge stadium to next year’s tournament.

“This UEFA Women’s EURO 2021 will be ground-breaking from start to finish. To kick-off at the ‘Theatre of Dreams’ in Manchester, and to have the final at the iconic Wembley Stadium shows just how far the game has come,” she said.

“This is what women’s football deserves. To play in such stadia is what you strive for – as a player, coach, referee and a fan. I am so happy for everyone who will have the opportunity to experience this.

“Our goal is to deliver a memorable tournament and inspire the next generation of football-loving girls and boys.

“Knowing the FA and England’s long-term commitment to the women’s game, we have no doubt that we will achieve this together and set a new European benchmark.”

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