Emo­tional Ellis ends ‘un­be­liev­able jour­ney’

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - Sport | Football - By So­phie Pen­ney

Jill Ellis fought back tears as she re­flected on her “un­be­liev­able jour­ney” as head coach of the United States women’s foot­ball team.

The 53-year-old, Portsmouth­born coach has stepped down af­ter be­com­ing only the se­cond per­son to win con­sec­u­tive World Cups, male or fe­male, and the first in the women’s game.

“It’s a story writ­ten, and it’s a chap­ter closed, and it’s on to other things. It’s been an un­be­liev­able jour­ney,” she said.

“It’s been the most re­ward­ing job I’ve ever had, the hard­est job I’ve ever had. I’ve en­joyed this and I’m ready for what’s next.”

Ellis an­nounced her re­tire­ment in July af­ter the World Cup but said she would re­main in charge for the team’s “Vic­tory Tour”.

Her fi­nal match, on Sun­day, ended 1-1 against South Korea in Chicago. Chelsea’s Ji So-yun scored for South Korea af­ter 34 min­utes be­fore US cap­tain Carli Lloyd equalised three min­utes later.

Vic­tory in Ellis’s penul­ti­mate match, against the same op­po­nents last Thurs­day, meant she over­took the late Tony Di­ci­cco for the most wins of any US women’s na­tional team coach.

Ellis, who was named Women’s Coach of the Year at this year’s Best Fifa Foot­ball Awards, won 106 of her 132 games in charge.

In 20015, just a year af­ter be­ing ap­pointed, Ellis helped the US to their first World Cup tro­phy in 16 years. Her team re­peated the feat in

Tri­umphant era: Jill Ellis took over in 2014 and led the US to suc­ces­sive World Cup wins

France in July. The US av­er­aged 3.1 goals per game un­der Ellis, won eight tour­na­ments and never lost a game in a World Cup.

But Ellis said it was the peo­ple, not the re­sults, that were most im­por­tant to her: “I think that’s been the best part of this job, build­ing re­la­tion­ships. I’m not go­ing to re­mem­ber games so much as I’m go­ing to re­mem­ber all these peo­ple that helped me get where I am.”

Ellis’s re­place­ment has not been named. Tony Gus­tavs­son, her as­sis­tant coach, is also stepping down af­ter eight years, leav­ing the search open ahead of the 2020 Olympics.

Eng­land man­ager Phil Neville has dis­missed re­ports link­ing him to the job. Ar­se­nal man­ager Joe Mon­te­murro has also been touted but he has a long-term con­tract with his club, the Women’s Su­per League cham­pi­ons.

Ellis will con­tinue to work with the US as an am­bas­sador for at least a year.

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