Casey Stoney becomes Manchester United’s new manager

Former England captain Casey Stoney has been appointed Manchester United manager.

The openly gay footballer, who came out in 2014 after being inspired by fellow sports star Tom Daley, will be the women’s team’s first manager when it returns next season after a 13-year hiatus.

Stoney, 36, has given up her position as assistant manager to England boss Phil Neville, who coincidentally used to play for Man Utd’s men’s team, to take up the role.

ZENICA, BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA - APRIL 12: Casey Stoney of England in action during the UEFA Women's European Championship Qualifier match between Bosnia and Herzegovina and England at FF BIH Football Training Centre on April 12, 2016 in Zenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina. (Photo by Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty Images)

Stoney in action for England (Srdjan Stevanovic/Getty)

The former Arsenal and Liverpool defender appeared 130 times for England during her storied career, which included several major trophies and – after she came out – a role at the forefront of LGBT activism within the game.

She broke barriers and spoke out against discrimination, saying in 2015 that “if you create a loving environment, it shouldn’t matter if you’ve got one parent, two parents, whether they’re the same sex or not.”

Stoney now has three children with her wife, former Lincoln Ladies teammate Megan Harris.

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 06: Casey Stoney holds her MBE (Member of the British Empire) award, after it was presented to her by the Princess Royal, at the Investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace on October 6, 2015 in London. (Photo by John Stillwell - WPA Pool/Getty Images)

Stoney was made an MBE in 2015 (John Stillwell – WPA Pool/Getty)

The new United manager said the chance was too big to turn down.

“This the biggest club in the world,” she said in an interview with United’s website.

“The fact we are going to have a women’s team and I’m going to be able to introduce that from scratch, to build a team, build a philosophy, with the biggest club in the world, means that, for me, there is no more exciting opportunity.

Man Utd welcomed Stoney to the club (caseystoney/instagram)

“I truly believe Manchester United has the ability to change the face of women’s football forever.”

The Olympian, who captained Great Britain’s team in 2012, has said she thought coming out as gay would end her career, adding that she never expected to receive letters of support.

“I was absolutely petrified,” she admitted. “I didn’t know what the response would be.

“I thought it would be negative and it was completely the opposite – it was overwhelmingly positive.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 31:  Casey Stoney #6 of Great Britain waves to the crowd draped in a Union Jack as she celebrates her team's victory after the Women's Football first round Group E Match between Great Britain and Brazil on Day 4 of the London 2012 Olympic Games at Wembley Stadium on July 31, 2012 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Stoney captained Great Britain at the 2012 London Olympics (Julian Finney/Getty)

She also said way back in 2014 that she would boycott both the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, which are being hosted in Russia and Qatar respectively.

This year’s tournament, which starts on June 14, has been plagued by fears of anti-LGBT violence against travelling fans.

One activist group, Pride in Football, revealed last month that Russians had sent letters saying that LGBT supporters would be “hunted down and stabbed” if they followed their teams to Russia.

MARSEILLE, FRANCE - JUNE 11: England fans clash with Russian fans ahead of the game against Russia later today on June 11, 2016 in Marseille, France. Football fans from around Europe have descended on France for the UEFA Euro 2016 football tournament. (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)

Fans fight (Carl Court/Getty)

And on June 8, the UK Parliament’s Foreign Affairs committee released a report saying that “LGBT individuals in Russia not only face the risk of violence from vigilante groups, but lack adequate protection from the state.”

If you’re planning on staying at home and are searching for a team to back, PinkNews has figured out who you should be supporting in every game – and which LGBT-friendly country deserves to lift the trophy on July 15.