Christy Holly, the scout who helped US win Women's World Cup

Christy Holly is an opposition analyst Image copyright CHRISTY HOLLY
Image caption Christy Holly gathers information about the USA's opponents

Christy Holly helped the US women's football team win the World Cup.

The Londonderry man is an opposition analyst for the United States team.

When free kick taker Megan Rapinoe scored a crucial goal against host nation France in the quarter final, the set piece came after careful scrutiny of the opposition's tactics.

That goal was six months in the making.

Christy spent months before the competition travelling around the world to watch the USA team's rivals play.

Image caption Megan Rapinoe's goal celebration against host nation France went viral

His job was to figure out how the Stars and Stripes could capitalise on their opponents' weaknesses and undermine their strengths.

"In the past six months, I'd been to 10 different countries checking out national teams," said Mr Holly.

"I look out for opportunities and threats, how they could hurt us and how we could break them down and beat them."

After defeating France 2-1, the US went on to beat England in the semi-final and then the Netherlands in the final on 7 July to lift the trophy for a record fourth time.

200-page reports

The former Limavady United player moved to the US after university and started coaching youth teams before switching to professional women's football.

Image copyright Christy Holly
Image caption Christy Holly managed Sky Blue FC before he got the call up to the USA national team

"I wanted to get experience in the professional game so I started coaching women's football," he said.

"I managed a professional women's football team at the highest level. I managed a lot of the national team's players at club level so I had a good relationship with head coach, Jill Ellis."

After he stepped aside as manager of Sky Blue FC, Mr Holly got the call-up to the United States national team in 2017 as an opposition analyst.

"I travel to see teams play, then I put together a report to present to the USA coaching staff.

"It's usually about 200 pages."

"When I am back with the coaches, it's almost like a war room. We decide what tactics to use against the opposition."

Image copyright Christy Holly
Image caption Christy Holly is already looking at the USA's potential rivals at the Tokyo Olympics next year

Just like the players, Christy Holly said he felt nervous heading out to France for the start of the tournament.

"Before the final, there were a few sleepless nights," he recalled.

"You were nervous and questioning if we had done enough.

"I was so relieved when the final whistle blew. I was glad that it was over and we had got it over the line.

"I would usually go straight home and watch the game again to break it down and report it.

"But we had great celebrations that night, I still haven't watched the game back."

Olympic goal

While the US team enjoyed celebrations back at home after this win, their focus has now shifted to their next big task, the Olympic Games in Tokyo next year.

The United States were knocked out by Sweden at the quarter final stage in 2016, the first time the defending champions have failed to reach the semi-finals of a major tournament.

The US eased to a 3-0 victory over the Republic of Ireland in their first game since the World Cup final.

Christy gathered intel on his home side, the girls in green, but who did he support?

"It would be great if it had been a five-all draw but I had to support Ireland!"

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