Phil Neville has lavished praise on Steph Houghton after the England Women’s captain made her 100th international appearance.
The 30-year-old led her team-mates out at a sold-out New York Stadium for Sunday’s 2-0 defeat by Sweden.
Although the result didn’t go Houghton’s way, Neville took time to compliment his skipper as she became the 11th Lionesses centurion.
He said: “Playing for your country 100 times is really, really special.
“You’re talking about 10 years or so of constantly turning up for international camps. I think it’s an unbelievable achievement.
“You always want to celebrate something as special as [this] with a victory, but it wasn't to be.
“I still think it's a fantastic achievement. It doesn't take anything away from her achievement at all.”
Houghton made her senior team debut against Russia in March 2007. Untimely injuries ruled her out of both the 2007 World Cup and 2009 Euros, but she bounced back and finally made her tournament debut at Germany 2011.
Appointed captain in April 2014, the Durham native led her country to a historic third-place finish at the last World Cup before helping England reach the semi-finals of Euro 2017.
“First and foremost Steph is a brilliant defender,” said Neville. “But her passing range is excellent and she has got tremendous leadership qualities, too, and when I took over there was no doubt in my mind that Steph would remain as captain.
“The likes of Steph, Jill Scott and Fara Williams; they are the ones the younger players should be looking up to.
“Steph and other players of her generation, and the generation before that, fought like mad to get the women’s game to where it is today. They paved the way.”
He added: “Steph deserves all the plaudits she gets. But forget her football ability for a second, she’s just a really good person.
“When you have good people and good characters in any team then you’re going to have a chance of being successful.”