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Jill Scott: England’s joker who achieved her footballing dreams

Lucy Bronze and Jill Scott
Lucy Bronze (left) and Jill Scott (right) celebrated with fans after winning Euro 2022 this summer

As Lucy Bronze celebrated on stage in Trafalgar Square less than 24 hours after England won Euro 2022, she was asked what made their squad special. “Jill Scott!” she replied, and handed back the mic.

The 35-year-old’s impression on those she has worked with in the game has been huge.

Former Manchester City boss Nick Cushing said one of his greatest achievements during his time at the club was “earning the respect of players”.

“I can call people like Jill Scott my friends,” he explained.

The midfielder’s footballing ability was always obvious. It has led her to 10 major tournaments, to become England’s second-most capped footballer with 161 appearances, to become a European champion, two-time Olympian and be awarded an MBE.

Prince William reached out to her when Scott picked up her 150th England cap, reminding her of the time she took him out with a slide-tackle in a charity five-a-side match, while David Beckham sent her a video message of congratulations.

Jill Scott playing in the 2007 World Cup match between England and Germany
Jill Scott made her first appearance at a major tournament at the 2007 World Cup in China

She has been a key figure for England for more than 15 years, making her debut in 2006, as well as an important player at all the domestic clubs she has represented – Sunderland, Manchester City, Everton and Aston Villa.

Izzy Christiansen, a former team-mate at City and England, told BBC Sport that times spent playing alongside Scott in midfield “were the most enjoyable years of my career”.

When announcing her departure from City earlier this year, manager Gareth Taylor said: “Jill has played a crucial part in so many of the team’s successes over the years alongside making such a difference to the game as a whole.

“Her dedication and commitment to this club both on and off the pitch is testament to her character and she leaves Manchester City with legend status and the gratitude of everybody here for her contributions.”

Despite her phenomenal achievements on the pitch, it is Scott’s personality which has warmed hearts of many who have followed and been a part of her career.

She has a unique ability to make people laugh in any scenario – though not always meaning to – and a playful, child-like character which she has joked in the past has driven team-mates “crazy”.

Jill Scott
Jill Scott pretended to interview the Euro 2022 trophy while on stage in Trafalgar Square during celebrations the morning after their victory over Germany

“I’m 34 still feeling like that 19-year-old kid,” Scott said earlier this year.

When she was not at ‘Boxx2Boxx’ – the coffee shop she owns named after her football role as an energetic, tireless midfielder – she was usually pulling pranks on team-mates.

Teaming up with Rachel Brown-Finnis to switch the left and right labelling on Claire Rafferty’s football boots at her first World Cup set the standards for Scott’s pranks.

She sat next to England goalkeeper Carly Telford on planes for support because of her fear of flying – which Scott joked was a relief for Demi Stokes, who would get “tired of spending the day with me”.

Though she was always willing to work hard, Scott hated spending time in the gym, often being teased for her poor weightlifting by White and clashing with sports scientists over her inability to appreciate its importance. “I couldn’t kick the dumbbells so couldn’t see the link!” she once said.

But despite her simple outlook on the game, Scott had experienced the challenges of life as a female footballer before it became professional in England and has always paid respect to those who helped her in her early career.

As she prepared for what would become her final match – the Euro 2022 final – she said: “All the players that have gone before – this is for them and everybody.

“If we get to lift the trophy on Sunday then I hope they know they have their hands on it as well.”

It is a testament to Scott that despite her age she was able to form such special bonds with England’s young players – she wanted to bring everyone along on her ride.

Jill Scott and Lauren Hemp
Jill Scott had a strong friendship with young Manchester City winger Lauren Hemp

When Villa manager Carla Ward signed Scott on loan last season, she said “Jill will bring so much to this group, not only on the pitch, but a huge impact off it too”.

This summer she would go for walks with youngster Lauren Hemp in their free time and she often teased the likes of Ella Toone and Alessia Russo for their obsession with fashion and overusing their phones.

She teased that the music sounded “the same” and would take on Millie Bright in rap battles.

In short, Scott was someone who oozed positivity, embraced every opportunity within the game and wanted everyone to know how much she was enjoying it.

And despite her incredible achievements, she was always humble. Picking up her MBE medal during Covid at a local post office was typical of Scott.

What she does next is unknown but Scott’s impact on the game will leave its mark for years to come.

As she said when leaving City, “all good things come to an end”.

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