Nikita Parris is a wonderful footballer and her special talent could easily help her become one of the world’s leading exponents of her craft. That’s the view of head coach Phil Neville, who saw her turn in a dazzling display to help England chalk up an opening strike in the Lionesses’ Women’s World Cup crusade in their 2-1 victory over Scotland — in front of 13,118 supporters at Nice’s Allianz Riviera.
Next up for the English is a tough test in the shape of Argentina with the two teams set to go head to head on Friday at the Stade Océane in Le Havre in a Group D game, before heading back to Nice to take on Japan on Wednesday, June 19.
And Parris will be hoping to have her shooting boots on once more for the encounter — and replicate her form in the game against the Scots in which she grabbed her first goal of the tournament.
Former Manchester United and Everton ace Neville says her development at Manchester City has been amazing — and arguably the best club side in the women’s game, Lyon (current European champions) would agree as they have just recruited her for the new season ahead.
And Neville said of Parris, who emerged as the Women’s Super League’s all-time top scorer last season:
“You’ve seen a little snippet of what a special player we’ve got. Nikita is an example of the work England and Man City have done. We’ve challenged them 16 months ago to be the best players in the world in their position. We’ve seen a player develop from being a really good WSL player to signing for the best team in the world.”
Parris will take a huge amount of confidence into the clash with Argentina following her performance and goal — but perhaps more important in some ways will be her calmness, something which she couldn’t muster going into the game against Scotland.
“I’m not going to lie to you. I sat in my hotel room and said to Abbie McManus my team-mate, ‘I’ve got butterflies’ It was the first time. I hadn’t experienced a moment like that. But ultimately, I stuck with myself and thought — what two things can you bring to the game today? That’s passion, and drive, and all the rest came for me.”
Meanwhile, defending champions the United States of America — the first country to win three Women’s World Cups — make their World Cup bow tonight when they come up against Thailand.
And midfield maestro Lindsey Horan says she and her team-mates will relish the chance to set the bar high, knowing they are the ones to watch when it comes to being rated as favourites for the trophy.
“We want to be the ones that everybody is chasing. I wouldn’t say that it is pressure, because it’s something we like. We like having it on our backs. It tells us that everybody is after us and helps us to keep that high standard. It is getting more challenging for us and it makes us up our game. All these other teams are catching us up.”