In a move that will surprise many, Gary Neville has been signed to a four-year contract to join the England coaching staff (Image | Reuters)

Recently-appointed England manager Roy Hodgson has sparked much conversation and pulled off a major surprise today by adding Manchester United legend and current Sky Sports co-commentator Gary Neville to his coaching staff ahead of the forthcoming European Championships in Poland and Ukraine.

“At my first meeting with The FA, I explained that  Gary was someone I wanted as part of my staff,” Hodgson said in a statement. “I think it is very important we have a younger coach who knows the dressing room and is very experienced at international level.”

The former right-back added: “Roy asking me to be a part of his staff and to work with the national team is not only an honour but a very special moment for me.

“I had absolutely no hesitation in accepting this role and I am relishing the opportunity to work alongside Roy and the team at the Euros and through to the next two tournaments.”

Neville, who has no previous experience of coaching at any level, is one of England’s most-capped players after an international career which spanned 12 years and saw him appear 85 times for the Three Lions. Also one of English football’s most successful players following his lengthy career at United, Neville will be a well-known but potentially polarising appointment among England fans.

With the announcement of the England squad for the tournament set to be made next week, Hodgson has concentrated his time on organising his coaching set-up instead. Birmingham City goalkeeping coach Dave Watson, who worked extensively with Joe Hart during the England number one’s time on loan there, will join long-serving England ‘keeper coach Ray Clemence, with Ray Lewington, Hodgson’s former right-hand man at Fulham, also set to join the staff. Although Neville has been hired on a four-year contract, Lewington and Watson are at the present time only confirmed for Euro 2012 and it is not known whether Hodgson is considering or anticipating having them join the staff on a permanent basis after the tournament.

With England Under-21 coach Stuart Pearce – Neville’s former England teammate, of course – also set to be involved in the senior coaching set-up for the tournament before he guides the Great Britain team at the Olympics, Hodgson’s coaching roster currently stands at five.

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