Karen Hills: Ex-Tottenham manager on 'end of an era' after 13 years

By Emma SandersBBC Sport
Juan Amoros and Karen Hills
Karen Hills (right) spent two decades with Tottenham in various roles and 13 years as head coach

Former Tottenham manager Karen Hills said her departure from the Women's Super League club was "the end of an era" but she is "very proud" of what she achieved in her 13 years.

Hills and co-head coach Juan Amoros left last month after leading the club to promotion to the English top flight in 2018-19 and were replaced by former England assistant coach Rehanne Skinner.

When Hills first took charge of Spurs Ladies in 2007, they were in the fifth tier and she was asked to drive the minibus to games. Her players took their own kit home to wash each week.

The 45-year-old worked alongside the club - volunteering, running half-term coaching schools and setting up foundation colleges - during 20 years in total at Spurs.

"The end line was a sad moment," Hills told BBC Sport. "We were in a better place as a team and a coaching team than we were last year, so the expectation was: 'What can we do next?'

"We were a big-name club but we were building for something incredible and it wasn't going to happen overnight. We organically grew it. It was a process that we were working through. Our work showed that throughout the years."

The night before Hills and Amoros' departure, they lost to rivals Arsenal on penalties in the Continental Cup after drawing 2-2 in normal time.

"Alex Morgan nearly scored the winner for us in that game. That moment is one that will bring closure to my Spurs career and I'm very proud of what we have achieved," added Hills.

"I don't think there is going to be many people that will have the time to be able to do and create something like I did for that many years. Now it's a results-driven business - and rightly so as a lot of money has been invested.

"It will take time as it was a massive part of my life and always will be."

'Players were able to achieve their dream'

Karen Hills and Alex Morgan
Hills helped recruit USA international Alex Morgan, a two-time World Cup winner, this summer

Hills said she "came from a grassroots environment" on her journey with Spurs, gaining four promotions on their way to the WSL.

In her early days, she would hold assemblies in local schools promoting Spurs Ladies before running lunchtime sessions with five-year-olds and coaching the senior team in the evenings.

Despite having "a blank piece of paper" at the start, Hills began building for the club's future and their ultimate goal: reaching the top flight.

"We did it in a short space of time because we just had this belief in the team that we were building something special," she said.

"We brought these players into the WSL and they were able to achieve their dream. That is something I will always be very proud of."

Tottenham's first game in the WSL was a 1-0 loss to Chelsea in front of 24,564 fans, live on BBC TV, at Stamford Bridge.

"It could not have got much bigger," said Hills. "We had always moved the club forward and we weren't going to stop now."

'I have done something incredible'

Juan Amoros and Karen Hills
Hills and Juan Amoros (left) won two Women's Premier League Cups during their time at Tottenham

Hills said she will be "friends for life" with Amoros, who she coached beside for nine years, though they have both decided the time is right to go in "different career directions".

"It's been an amazing friendship and a very good partnership. We would go out for dinner with our partners and I have been over to Spain to meet his mum," she said.

"We were both very passionate about the game, driven to taking this team forward and we took the opportunity with both hands.

"We spent more time with each other than we did with anyone else. This period is probably the longest we haven't seen each other."

So what is next for Hills, who began a playing career with Watford at the age of 18?

"I have done something incredible. I have done something that not many people will get an opportunity to do because of the way the game is going - and I'm really proud of that," she said.

"I can only see [the women's game] excelling. I want to be a part of that. There are options to explore so I'm keeping them open."

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