When Bill Edwards took over as principal owner of the Tampa Bay Rowdies in December, one of the first priorities for the St. Petersburg businessman was to re-sign coach Ricky Hill.
On Tuesday, Edwards reiterated that commitment by giving the former England National Team player a three-year contract extension that supersedes the one-year extension Hill signed before this season. Financial terms of the contract were not disclosed by the club.
"In my opinion, Ricky is the best coach in any league, anywhere," Edwards said in a news release. "I felt compelled to have the very best coach for the Rowdies."
In three-plus seasons with the Rowdies, Hill is 35-26-28 in league play. Three weeks after being named the league's Coach of the Year in 2012, Hill guided the Rowdies to a shootout victory over Minnesota Stars FC in the NASL Soccer Bowl for the league championship. Hill's 2011 and 2012 squads earned the NASL Fair Play award given to the team with the fewest yellow and red cards throughout the season.
"I've been involved with this game for many years, and I can say without a doubt, Ricky is one of the best coaches in the country," Rowdies general manager Perry Van Der Beck said. "He knows when to be assertive with players and when not to. He can look at each player individually and figure out what makes them tick."
During his playing days, Hill made 436 league appearances and scored 54 goals as a central midfielder for Luton Town Football Club (1976-1989) and earned three caps for the England National Team. Hill also enjoyed playing stints with Le Havre FC in France, Leicester City FC in England and, in 1991, the Tampa Bay Rowdies as a player/coach, where he won another Coach of the Year award a year later.
"For any coach, you'd like to have some security, and I felt that personally things had gone relatively well during my tenure," Hill said. "I think the club from a playing perspective has proven to be quite competitive in the league that we're in. We've always managed to have a reasonable season, not just on the field but in the way the guys have conducted themselves outside the locker room in the Tampa Bay area…
"Mr. Edwards has come in, and he's here for the long term. He's trying to create a dynasty. I'm grateful that he's given me an opportunity to be at the helm, and I'm looking forward to the challenge."