#Lionesses: Hege Riise and Rhian Wilkinson join coaching team

Lionesses' interim head coach, Hege Riise
Hege Riise. (PA Images)

England Women have appointed former Norway midfielder Hege Riise and ex-Canadian international Rhian Wilkinson to their coaching staff.

Both have agreed short-term contracts having applied for the assistant coach role made vacant by Rehanne Skinner’s move to Tottenham Hotspur last November.

With the news of Phil Neville’s departure confirmed this week, Riise will now step up to lead the February camp supported by Wilkinson and Kay Cossington, The FA’s head of women’s technical.

The 1995 world player of the year, Riise was an Olympic, World Cup and European Championship winner during a playing career that saw her score 58 goals in 188 internationals.

Since hanging up her boots, she helped LSK Kvinner dominate the Norwegian league, with six consecutive titles for the Lillestrom-based club she served as head coach since 2017. Previously she was assistant coach of the United States, helping guide the team to the final of the FIFA Women’s World Cup in 2011 and winning Olympic gold in 2012. Last December Riise was nominated for the FIFA Best Coach of the Year award.

Rhian Wilkinson. (PA Images)

Wilkinson won 181 caps for Canada and helped them win back-to-back bronze medals at the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games before turning to coaching. Her playing career as an attack-minded full-back also took her to Norway and the United States before she retired in 2017.

FA Director of Women’s Football, Baroness Sue Campbell said: “I am delighted to welcome Hege Riise and Rhian Wilkinson to the England coaching team, having had positive discussions with them in recent weeks.

“They bring significant international experience and will help guide our players before the arrival of Sarina Wiegman as our new head coach to lead us into the home EURO in 2022. Once February is complete, we will sit down and assess the Lionesses situation and consider next steps for Team GB in consultation with the home nations and the British Olympic Association.

“At the same time, we are committed to helping English coaching talent as underlined by the announcement made last month about a number of roles across development teams. The Lionesses pathway has already helped Casey Stoney, Bev Priestman and Rehanne Skinner to secure prominent roles in the game and we are confident more will follow.”

Speaking of her appointment, Riise said: “I’m excited about the opportunity I’ve been given to work with England Women. This is a proud and ambitious team that I look forward to working with and I am confident of making a positive impact when I meet up with the squad in February.”

Wilkinson said: “I am extremely thankful for the opportunity to work with such a talented group of players and staff, and it is a privilege to work alongside Hege Riise who I have already worked closely with as a player and coach.”

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