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U.S. star Rapinoe wrecked my watch - Neville

LYON, France -- England Women manager Phil Neville hailed U.S. star Megan Rapinoe as "world class" and said he knew of her competitiveness to his own cost after she inadvertently destroyed his watch during a game last year.

Rapinoe has been one of the stars of the Women's World Cup, scoring all four goals in the U.S.'s two knockout matches to help them into the semifinals.

She and her teammates now face England in Lyon on Tuesday, and Neville said he knew how hard it would be to curb her influence.

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"I remember in my first SheBelieves [Cup match against the U.S. last year] when there was a ball bouncing on the touchline and I went to catch it and her studs came right through my Apple watch," he said. "She's not paid me back for that.

"What I liked about that was that she didn't say sorry, she just got on with it.

"She's a winner. I like the individuality in her, both on and off the field, and I think she's a world class footballer."

Neville praised the work Rapinoe has done to promote equality off the field, but focused on Tuesday's game as he challenged his players to keep the threat of her and Crystal Dunn down the left at bay.

The manager has hinted that England right-back Lucy Bronze could be played as a makeshift midfielder -- a ploy he used against the U.S. in the SheBelieves Cup.

"It might be Rachel Daly up against Rapinoe," Neville said. "You never know, as Daly did really well in SheBelieves against her, and the ability of Lucy Bronze to step into midfield is why we did that. We have a decision to make there, as Rachel's in fantastic form.

"If you think about the left-hand side of the USA and the right-hand side of England, I don't think you'll get many better left and right sides in women's football.

"The U.S. are the reigning champions and the ones everyone wants to beat."

Neville backed Bronze to win this year's Ballon d'Or, saying: "I do believe she's the best player in the world because she's unique in everything she does.

"Her athleticism, ability to defend one vs. one -- she's fearless in everything she does. She always rises to the big occasion.

"We've seen a player that's developed a lot in the last 18 months and, even though she plays full-back and sometimes in midfield, the qualities she possesses make her one of the most outstanding players in the world.

"Even though she plays at full-back, that needs recognising. When we do ballots and polls, sometimes defenders are special as well and we have a few."


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