Bev Priestman on going from the ‘lowest moment’ of her career to winning Olympic gold

Bev Priestman, Canada
By Katie Whyatt Feb 16, 2022 2
Perhaps the return to the north east, those environs where the Canada manager Bev Priestman grew up, learned the game, and met her longtime mentor and national team predecessor John Herdman, will trigger something approaching deja vu.

The Olympic champions play England at the Riverside in the first game of the inaugural Arnold Clark Cup on Thursday but maybe the reminiscing might even have already started: Phil Neville’s erstwhile assistant has spent this week at St George’s Park, where the Canadian and Spanish national teams are based before the tournament.

Then again, there are whole chunks of Priestman’s career that feel like the same story retold and there might have been times when, having earned her stripes as coach of Canada’s youth-team squads and as Herdman’s assistant, she wondered how much longer she’d have to keep proving herself.

In her early 20s, she abandoned her plans for a teaching career and flew 11,000 miles from Consett, a town in County Durham with a population of around 26,000, to New Zealand in pursuit of coaching opportunities. More than 10 years later, Neville’s resignation from the England national team to move to MLS side Inter Miami found Priestman grappling with an equally uncertain future.

Two and a half years with the Lionesses — including a World Cup in 2019 — had been set to culminate in an Olympics and a home Euros. The appointment of Sarina Wiegman to replace Neville left Priestman with an empty calendar.