Former England captain Casey Stoney has been appointed Manchester United manager.
The openly gay footballer, who came out in 2014 after being inspired by fellow sports star Tom Daley, will be the women’s team’s first manager when it returns next season after a 13-year hiatus.
Stoney, 36, has given up her position as assistant manager to England boss Phil Neville, who coincidentally used to play for Man Utd’s men’s team, to take up the role.
The former Arsenal and Liverpool defender appeared 130 times for England during her storied career, which included several major trophies and – after she came out – a role at the forefront of LGBT activism within the game.
She broke barriers and spoke out against discrimination, saying in 2015 that “if you create a loving environment, it shouldn’t matter if you’ve got one parent, two parents, whether they’re the same sex or not.”
Stoney now has three children with her wife, former Lincoln Ladies teammate Megan Harris.
The new United manager said the chance was too big to turn down.
“This the biggest club in the world,” she said in an interview with United’s website.
“The fact we are going to have a women’s team and I’m going to be able to introduce that from scratch, to build a team, build a philosophy, with the biggest club in the world, means that, for me, there is no more exciting opportunity.
“I truly believe Manchester United has the ability to change the face of women’s football forever.”
The Olympian, who captained Great Britain’s team in 2012, has said she thought coming out as gay would end her career, adding that she never expected to receive letters of support.
“I was absolutely petrified,” she admitted. “I didn’t know what the response would be.
“I thought it would be negative and it was completely the opposite – it was overwhelmingly positive.”