2 October 2019 – Though it was the second time that she took home FIFA’s top prize for women’s coaches, Jill Ellis was still emotional after hearing the ovation at the Teatro alla Scala in Italy recently.
“Oh, it is heavy”, the USA head coach said, firmly grasping the trophy in her hands.
Ellis spoke to FIFA.comabout her back-to-back FIFA Women’s World Cup™ titles and now having two coaching awards in tow.
FIFA.com: Jill, how do you feel after being named The Best FIFA Women’s Coach?
Jill Ellis:It is incredible; very special and truly an honour. I am blessed to have it. I represent so many other people. Winning this award twice it is incredible. Without the players and all the staff you don’t achieve these things – it is truly a team award. My players, they had an amazing summer. I owe so much to them.
Winning a FIFA Women’s World Cup is amazing. Winning two in a row is historic.
It was incredibly special. And both of them were very different. I had a lot longer build-up for the one in 2019; the one in 2015 was a shorter time. Both were very, very special. I think this recent one was hard, just because of all the teams we had to fight to win. A lot of really talented teams. But I had a great team and a lot of supporters with us. It just made the journey incredibly special.
Can you pick out a favourite moment from your time in France?
A lot of really cool moments. I think the evening at the Parc des Princes playing France was unlike any match I’ve ever been involved in: the atmosphere, the stage, playing against the home team, playing such a phenomenal opponent that performed so well. That was a memory that really stuck out.
I think that Alyssa Naeher’s penalty save [in the semi-final against England] was one of those moments, too. With the level of competition, you just knew that it would be hard for us to be successful. Sharing those moments with our fans and my family, with the players and the staff, and actually lifting the trophy was pretty remarkable.
Your run as USA coach will be over soon. What are your emotions nearing the end?
It feels gratifying. It was the right decision. It was an amazing journey with a fantastic group of players. But it feels right – I’m ready to go on and face a different challenge. Being the coach of this team has been a tremendous privilege. But I am ready now to try and do something different.
It sounds like retirement isn’t in your plans just yet.
I feel that I’m too young to retire. I love the game, so I would love to be connected to the game in some way. What that will be, I don’t know yet. I haven’t really thought it through. I have two more games, and then I will pause and see what happens. Soccer is such a great part of my life; I cannot image not staying connected to it.
Do you feel like you’re leaving any unfinished business?
No, I feel that this journey is more than just matches and medals and trophies. It is really about moments. And I think that along this journey there have been highs and there’s most definitely been lows. I think that the tough times and the great times are all part of it, and I embrace it all. There is nothing that I feel I left undone. The journey is what it is, and it has been a great ride.