Inter Miami names Phil Neville as head coach, Chris Henderson as sporting director

Michelle Kaufman
·5 min read

It’s official: Phil Neville will be the new Inter Miami coach and Chris Henderson will be the chief soccer officer and sporting director.

The club announced the hires Monday morning, a few hours after Neville stepped down as coach of the England women’s national team.

Neville replaces Diego Alonso, with whom the club parted ways two weeks ago. Henderson, a former Miami Fusion player who went on to become one of the top talent evaluators in MLS, is taking over the job previously held by Paul McDonough, who stepped down in December. Henderson, 50, was a runner-up for the job when McDonough was hired in 2018.

Neville and Henderson are part of a front-office overhaul after the team’s inaugural season did not live up to expectations. A few other leadership positions on the business side are still being finalized. At least one is expected to come from overseas.

“I am incredibly delighted for this opportunity to coach Inter Miami and to work with Chris and the entire ownership group. This is a very young club with a lot of promise and upside, and I am committed to challenging myself, my players and everyone around me to grow and build a competitive soccer culture we can all be proud of,” Neville said in a team news release. “This fantastic soccer-loving market deserves consistent performances and a winning mentality, and I look forward to getting to work.”

Neville’s addition to the club is pending receipt of his work visa.

Henderson will manage soccer operations and decisions, from the first team to the youth levels. The full technical staff will be announced at a later date.

“This is an incredible opportunity for me to take the next step in my career, return to South Florida and solidify my mark on this league,” Henderson said. “I have always believed in the Inter Miami project and the club’s ability to become a powerhouse, not only in MLS but across the global soccer industry.

“My goal is to work with the technical staff to ensure we have a roster that fits the style of soccer we want while maintaining a healthy pipeline of youth, league wide and international players. I’m looking forward to joining Inter Miami’s journey and reconnecting with the fanbase in South Florida.”

Henderson helped lead Seattle to two MLS Cups (2016, 2019), four U.S. Open Cups, and four Western Conference titles. He played 11 seasons in MLS and also 79 games with the U.S. national team.

Inter Miami kicked off with a lot of global publicity and promise last March. The ownership group, led by Beckham and brothers Jorge and Jose Mas, spent more than $100 million on a training site and temporary stadium in Fort Lauderdale and splurged on one of the league’s most expensive rosters. But the team had an underwhelming season, finishing 10th in the 14-team Eastern Conference and crashing out of the opening playoff round with a 3-0 loss to fellow expansion club Nashville SC.

Beckham, who will be taking a more hands-on role in 2021, decided to turn the coaching reins over to his former Manchester United and England teammate Neville, who turns 44 on Thursday. The two are good friends, and co-owners of English fourth-division club Salford City.

“I am very happy with the leadership group we have established to lead the team as we turn the page following our inaugural season and look forward to having Chris and Phil join us soon,” Beckham said. “I have known Phil since we were both teenagers at the Manchester United Academy. We share a footballing DNA having been trained by some of the best leaders in the game, and it’s those values that I have always wanted running through our Club.

“Phil has deep experience in football, as a player and as a coach at both club and international level, and over his career he has worked with many of the finest managers and players in the game. I know his qualities as a person, his decency, loyalty and honesty - and his incredible energy and work ethic. Anyone who has played or worked with Phil knows he is a natural leader, and I believe now is the right time for him to join.”

Neville played 10 years with Manchester United, won six Premier League titles, three FA Cups and a Champions League. He then moved on to Everton, where he spent the final eight years of his playing career and was team captain. He also played 59 games for England from 1996 to 2007.

Neville retired in 2013 and went into coaching. He was a top assistant with Manchester United in 2013-14 under David Moyes and on the coaching staff with Spanish team Valencia in 2015-16 with his brother Gary. He took over as England women’s coach in January 2018 and led the Lionesses to a fourth-place finish at the 2019 Women’s World Cup.

When the English women played Germany at Red Bull Arena in 2018, Beckham was there to show his support for Neville and gave the Lionesses a pre-game pep talk. Beckham told the Telegraph at the time that he always felt Phil was destined for a coaching career.

“To be honest out of Phil and (brother) Gary, I always expected Phil to go into coaching,” Beckham said.

Neville comes from a sports family. His father, Neville, and mother, Jill, were both athletes. In addition to brother Gary, he has a twin sister, Tracey, who played and coached on the England national netball team. His 18-year-old son, Harvey, plays for Manchester United’s youth team.

In 2019, a year after Tracey led her team to the gold medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, Phil told the BBC:

“Last year was one of the best moments of my sporting life, seeing this daft England coach jumping on her players at the end of the game and I could say: ‘That’s my sister.’ They are great moments that probably make me and Gary more emotional than the moments we have had in our careers.”