Hope Powell sacked as England women's manager

Hope Powell has been sacked as manager of the England women's football team.

The 46-year-old had been in charge since 1998 but was criticised after England were eliminated in the group stages of Euro 2013 last month.

England knocked out of Euro 2013

England lost two matches and drew one in Sweden, their worst performance at a European Championship since 2001.

Powell said: "I leave very honoured to have contributed to all of the collective achievements of the group over the past 15 years."

In a statement issued via the League Managers Association, she added: "The women's game as a whole has made significant progress during this time and will continue to do so in years to come. I am extremely proud to have played some part in the development of women's football as a whole.

"At this stage, I would just like to thank all of the players and staff at the FA who I have worked with during my time in charge of all the England women's international teams. I sincerely wish the current group of players and my successor the very best for the future."

Powell's England were losing finalists at Euro 2009 and reached the World Cup in 2007 and 2011, when they made it to the quarter-finals.

Hope Powell's England record

Appointed England coach in June 1998 to become the first full-time boss of the women's team

In 2003, became the first woman to earn the Uefa Pro Licence

Led the England senior side to the 2007 World Cup finals - their first appearance since 1995

Guided them to runners-up spot at Euro 2009

Took England to 2011 World Cup quarter-finals and their highest Fifa ranking of sixth

Saw the Lionesses eliminated at the group stage of Euro 2013

FA general secretary Alex Horne said after "the disappointment" of Euro 2013 that "the time is right to make a change and for a fresh outlook".

He added: "Hope deserves a lot of credit for her commitment to developing the national teams over such a long period.

"The high point was undoubtedly reaching the Uefa European Championship final four years ago.

"Hope will always be welcome back at Wembley Stadium and [national football centre] St George's Park and she leaves a strong legacy, having helped the FA build the women's game to the strong position it is in today."

The FA will now look to recruit both a new head coach and a technical lead for women's football.

"We will be speaking to people from across the game both domestically and internationally before making any appointments," said Horne.

It is understood the FA is aiming to have someone in place for the World Cup qualifier against Belarus on 21 September, although England Under-19 boss Mo Marley could act as cover.

Powell defends England performance

England skipper Casey Stoney told BBC Sport she was "shocked" to hear the news and said Powell had changed the face of the women's game in England.

"When we first starting playing, we used to get spanked 6-0 by the United States in friendlies and then recently we beat them 2-1," Stoney said. "She took the England team to a whole new level and maybe the FA now thinks it's time to go to the next level."

Following England's early exit in Sweden this summer, Powell was criticised for picking injured and out-of-form players.

And former England internationals Faye White and Sue Smith both said players might respond positively if there was a different coach in charge for the 2015 World Cup campaign.

Powell responded by saying the domestic game needed more investment if the national team wanted to compete with leading nations.