Neville hails 100-cap Houghton
England Women manager Phil Neville has called captain Steph Houghton a “special person” ahead of her 100th England cap today.
The Manchester City captain, 30, was rested on Thursday against Austria to allow her to reach the landmark on home soil, the Lionesses having sold out Rotherham United’s New York Stadium for what Neville hopes will be “a celebration of her international career” against Sweden.
Houghton’s personal circumstances, of course, are far from those in which she would have imagined becoming the 11th woman to collect 100 caps.
She and her family are still reeling from the news that her husband Stephen Darby, the 30-year-old former Liverpool, Bradford and Bolton rightback, has motor neurone disease.
Neville said: “Steph’s a brilliant player but an even better person. What she’s going through is horrific but you’d never know. She gets on with it. She’s dealt with it in a class manner and she’s gone up so much in my estimation. She is respected by the players and I don’t think she realises just how much respect she’s got within football.
“That’s why I want Sunday to be about Steph Houghton. I can see her getting towards 170 caps, like Fara [Williams], because she’s the ultimate professional. The football she’s played from the start of the season is the best I’ve seen her play.”