WI had just entered the second hour of our conversation when Jill Scott recalls that her longest interview lasted six hours. It was also different because, while driving alone years ago, Scott interviewed himself out loud. “I always did,” he says as he reflects on his cheerful character, which means that, even at the ripe old age of 35, he was one of the stars of England’s European triumph this summer.
Scott retired last month after the last of his 170 caps (nine of which were for Great Britain) came in the Euro 2022 final when he came off the bench to help England beat Germany. She also lit up social media when she was seen on television swearing at a German player as she displayed her trademark passion and passion for a long career that stretched from penniless obscurity as a young footballer on Wearside to a European champion at Wembley. .
Now Scott easily remembers how she interviewed herself on her sister’s wedding day. Late one afternoon in 2007, Scott drove six hours from Sunderland to London because the next day he was to play for Everton against Charlton in the FA Cup. “Right after the wedding and I couldn’t even stay for the first dance. I got into the car in my dress with my hair all wrapped up because I was the bride. The radio didn’t work so I was on that trip, forever, with interviewed herself. I joked: ‘Jill, you have a big game tomorrow. How are you feeling?’ I was practicing my interviewing skills.”
The day after England won the European Championship, a starving team was paraded through London. Scott laughs as he remembers, he actually interviewed the trophy while he was enjoying the surreal celebrations. But it reveals that coaching, rather than media work, is more likely to consume it.
“That’s where I get my voice and my happiness, on that field training. I’m going to throw myself into the ground as a coach so I don’t want to jump into it straight away. Football has always been my goal but being happy is the main thing.”
Scott was happier and more proud than ever during her 10th major tournament this summer. She played in four World Cups, four European Championships and two Olympic Games. “I soaked up every moment and made the most of every tournament. They define my life.”
Still, Scott had serious doubts that he would be selected for Euro 2022. “I thought it could go either way. Those last two years at Manchester City were really tough and I left with two loans. [back to Everton and then to Aston Villa]. I was really proud of myself because I made it to both teams. But at Villa I pushed a lot. I was doing extra sessions and running. I sprained my knee a little and that made me more suspicious.”
Scott was shaking when he went to a meeting with Sarina Wiegman, the England manager, to find out if she had made the team. “It was terrible. Some people received good news, some received bad news. I hate that I know some people will be offended. So I was happy to get in but very sad for everyone who didn’t make it.”
The veteran midfielder’s importance to the team’s balance and harmony was evident throughout Euro 2022 but Scott believes Wiegman provided the best possible environment. “He’s a really good person. You’d have a cup of coffee and he’d sit and chat for an hour and you felt like you were talking to a friend. But when you got on that training ground, you didn’t want to put a foot wrong. You didn’t want to.” let her down. I felt we were the best-prepared team and we all knew our jobs. Going into the tournament, I knew if we had a lead I would use it and it all worked out very well. .
In the final Scott was a key figure in extra time. He was generally competitive and swore at Sydney Lohmann of Germany. “I don’t usually like to swear but I did at that moment. She had my leg between her leg and she didn’t give me my leg back while the game was going on. She also said something to me and I just reacted. showed. Unfortunately the camera caught it. I was very happy that we won, because it could have been negative.”
Her grandmother in Sunderland gave her a pair of shirts and T-shirts with Scott’s name printed on them. Scott laughs. “He understands my passion and how I am on the pitch. I like to think that I was terrible to play against and my idol growing up was Roy Keane.
Keane has had a successful tenure at Sunderland, always supporting Scott’s club, and he went to watch them against Norwich last month. “At that time, they didn’t have a manager, and when I came to the ground, many people asked for a photo and a few people said: “Go get the manager’s job.”
Scott becomes more serious as he dreams of one day coaching at Sunderland’s academy. “I’d love to do some coaching there and it’s not like I’m a big head. I can add some value, especially as I’ve been around the likes of Manchester City and Everton and seen how their men’s teams work. I’ve been invited to their academies. to sit in meetings and watch video footage.”
He singles out Pep Guardiola and Jürgen Klopp as the two coaches he admires the most. “Pep’s philosophy of trying different things is special. You see his full-backs playing inside or central centers like Foden and Silva playing as opposite wings. I like that about Pep because you can learn a lot – “Even though he’s talented, you can’t figure out how he gets to certain places. In terms of attitude and positivity, it’s got to be Klopp. I love him.”
Has she spoken to Guardiola extensively at City? “No, but I went to a few of his training sessions, which was great, and he came to watch some of ours. But it was scary knowing that Kevin De Bruyne was watching us too. I was playing as a 10 and thought : ‘Oh, it’s so hard!’ But Kevin has been to the cafe several times since then [her fiancée] Shelley himself. They are nice guys.”
Scott has been coaching youth players for many years and earned his Uefa B license. She plans to get her A’s license and when I ask if she has been approached about possible coaching positions. “There have been some talks with a few clubs but I really want to be involved in England, with the younger age groups. I think the mentoring role is very important.”
Did the FA talk to her? “They asked us for two meetings this week. I think I’m just creating a job.”
Scott laughs but her experience is vast and she has transformed in 30 years in women’s football. She started playing soccer at the age of five and a few years later, as she remembers: “I was playing in a boys’ team, won the man of the match award, and they asked if they should change her to man of the match. I said no because I didn’t want anyone to think I got it because I was a single girl. Then, the next season, when I was told I couldn’t play with the boys anymore, I was really sad.
Her mother encouraged her to continue playing and promised that they would find her a girls’ team. “I was attached to football. I always wanted to play.”
Scott recalls playing for Sunderland women, in the oversized kit the men’s team had been given from the previous season and how, on away trips, the four of them shared a room at the Premier Inn: “Those were the best days.”
But women’s football had little to develop at the time and even the top women’s clubs only trained in the evening, usually from six to nine, as most players worked during the day. “At Everton, Mo Marley [her coach] I can keep you there until 11 o’clock. I have to drive back to Sunderland and won’t be back until two in the morning. Getting up for coaching was difficult.”
She earned a bit of money coaching at Gateshead College and, as Scott says: “We didn’t get paid for club football in the early days. But I was lucky.”
She made her international debut in 2006, aged 19, and three years later she was among the first 17 players to be awarded a central contract by the FA. “I was on 16,000 pounds [a year] which was really amazing. You had players doing this for years with no money at all. I felt very happy.”
Scott also felt happy and excited throughout Euro 2022. “Spain were absolutely brilliant” in their quarter-final but she always believed England would win. It was only in the final that her nerves flared on the chair. “Think about everything you’ve ever been through as an England fan, as an England player and as a little girl wearing your England shirt. All those years went by in that match and I was trying to calm myself down: ‘Come on, Jill. , stay logical. All your past experience will help you.’ It was almost a huge event and I was really nervous. But when I knew I was going, something changed. When I crossed that white line, I knew my job was to play football, which I have done for many years. .
Has women’s football in England changed forever? “Of course. For years you had to use such unnecessary energy to fix the sport. But in the end we were able to focus most of our energy on just training and playing. The energy from these tournaments usually dies but I’m very confident. that will increase now.”
She became an ambassador for Starling Bank, which launched another campaign to increase investment in grassroots women’s football. “Starling is offering £1,000 grants to 25 grassroots teams, which is a great way to use it for kit, travel. I also wanted to link up with them because Starling was founded by a woman named Anne Boden, who wanted to break barriers in banking. Now they want to break barriers in women’s football.”
Scott’s gratitude doesn’t feel bittersweet in retirement. “It’s been a big part of my life knowing football for 30 years only on weekends. But I’ll stay in the game and it will help the transition. The Lionesses invited us to training last week and it was great. It’s only the third camp “It was like I hadn’t been in 16 years. They invited us to dinner and I stayed until dinner. I wanted to see everyone so bad.”
Scott will continue to dream of coaching. “Sometimes, at night,” he says, “I’ll watch Bayern Munich’s training sessions and I’ll be very happy. That’s why I have a real passion for coaching and, when the time is right, I’ll be involved.”