Jill Scott has had an impressive club and international career, earning the 2008 FA Players’ Player of the Year award and the 2011 FA International Player of the Year.
As a young student at the Monkwearmouth School in Sunderland, she was incessantly teased for her love of football. Back in the mid-nineties, it was still considered by many to be an oddity. Scott remembers being an eight-year-old at school and hearing, “You just want to be a boy”, or, “You must be a boy. Only boys like playing football. You’re not a girl at all, are you? You can’t be a girl” (Hattenstone). Scott would sometimes come home in tears, but she never considered giving up. While playing in tournaments, she would be the only girl where there were 120 boys. She remembers that “the boys’ parents didn’t want their lad being shown up by a girl so there were often a lot of people shouting, “Kick her, kick her” (Holt).
Jill has always been a great athlete, remembered as the “City midfielder who never stopped running for England in the World Cup” (Hattenstone). She ran for the Sunderland Harries in her youth and even won the North of England Under 13 cross country title. She always kept football closest to her heart, however. In a later interview, she stated, “I never got that winning feeling from running. I had won but I hadn’t won with a team. So it was a bit of an isolated feeling. I felt better being in a team. I think my personality is very team-oriented” (Holt).
After graduating from Gateshead College, Jill Scott began playing her professional career with the Sunderland Women football club in the FA Women’s National League. At only 18 years old, Scott quickly began to establish herself as a dominant player in English women’s football, garnering a Women’s Player of the Month award (Fair Game). Scott left Sunderland Women in 2006 to join the Everton Ladies football club. For the Everton Ladies, Scott went on to win the FA Tesco Player of the Year award for the 2007-08 season at just 21 years old, winning the award over Arsenal stars Karen Carney and Alex Scott. At the time, she was also playing for the England U-19s side. After captaining the U-19 team for 18 months, she received her call up to the England first team in May 2006 and had her debut performance against the Netherlands in August 2006.
In her first World Cup match against Japan, Scott entered the game as a substitute in the 74th minute (FIFA Archive) but then received an upgrade to a role in the starting lineup for the remainder of the tournament. Her first international goal came in England’s 6-1 demolition of Argentina in the 64th minute of the match (FIFA Archive).
Scott once again joined the England women’s national team for the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Scott scored two goals during the tournament — once in the victory over New Zealand in the group stage, and the tying goal against France in the knockout stage (FIFA Archive). When the match entered the penalty kick shootout, Scott did not volunteer to kick a penalty, and England fell to France 4-3 in the shootout. Following head coach Hope Powell’s harsh comments, attributing their loss as a result of the cowardice of those who failed to volunteer for penalty kicks, Scott retaliated on Twitter, saying “We win as a team …we lose as a team” (Gray).
In an effort to improve the quality of the national team, the Football Association offered 17 players on the women’s team central contracts, and Jill Scott was one of the original 17. The group was paid a total of £1.28 million over the course of a four-year period (BBC Sport). Jill is a new generation of women’s footballers in England, ones who can make a living as footballers. When she signed for Everton in 2006, she was traveling from Sunderland to Everton twice a week, which is about 800 miles. She was only able to train with the team once a week and then would drive to the game on a Sunday and play. She was not getting the right nutrition, the right sleep, and felt the strain of doing so many miles.
After signing for Manchester City in 2013, it brought a whole new level to her game. Living only 15 minutes away from the training ground, she is able to get proper meals and rest. Most of her teammates are full time now and she is aware of the changes in the quality of their game because of it. During her first few months, she saw how she was being treated and was saying, “Oh my God, we get our own kit washed, oh my God, I am getting my breakfast provided for me”, but after a little while, her manager pulled her to the side and said, “Jilly, this is the stuff you deserve to get. The boys here get it. Some of them haven’t represented their country and you have. You need to get away from how lucky you are” (Holt).
In an interview with the DailyMail, Jill reflects on the momentum of professional women’s football in England. “There are fewer barriers now for girls who want to play football. There’s more acceptance of it in schools. The games being on telly make a difference, too. When I go home to Sunderland, a few people come up and congratulate me and I recognize some of them. They were the ones who used to call me names at school. If it’s our off-season and I have gone to the local pub to watch the football or something, they will come over and say, ‘Let’s buy you a drink, I’ve been watching your matches, well done’. I will never say anything but I will always remember in the back of my mind that they used to give me stick. In that moment, you think, ‘I proved you wrong'” (Holt).
Scott is currently the #8 for Manchester City, with 83 appearances and 18 goals. Since her debut in 2006 for England, she has had 130 appearances for the Three Lionesses and 20 goals.
- Author Unknown. “Scotty Gets Top Player Award.” Fair Game: The Women’s Football Magazine. March 10, 2005. https://web.archive.org/web/20090915222655/http://www.fgmag.com/news/index.php?newsmode=FULL&nid=1969
- FIFA Women’s World Cup Archive: https://www.fifa.com/fifa-tournaments/archive/womensworldcup/index.html
- Gray, Ashley. “England women lash out at Hope Powell following coach’s cowardice comment.” Daily Mail. July 11, 2011. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-2013591/England-women-Hope-Powell-following-coachs-cowardice.html
- Author Unknown. “Jill Scott: English midfielder joins Manchester City. BBC Sport. November 15, 2013. https://www.bbc.com/sport/football/24955551
- Hattenstone, Simon. “‘I was never motivated by money’: Meet the New Stars of English football.” The Guardian, 1 Aug. 2015, www.theguardian.com/football/2015/aug/01/game-changers-england-women-football-team. Accessed 29 Apr. 2019.
- Holt, Oliver. “England’s women arrive on Main Street: Jill Scott was bullied for being a girl in a boy’s sport but now she’s relishing being in the limelight at the World Cup in Canada.” The Daily Mail, 13 June 2015, www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-3123064/England-s-women-arrive-Main-Street-Jill-Scott-bullied-girl-boy-s-sport-s-relishing-limelight-World-Cup-Canada.html. Accessed 29 Apr. 2019.
- “England Women Awarded Contracts.” BBC Sport, 14 May 2009, news.bbc.co.uk/sport2/hi/football/women/8050189.stm.