It has been a long time coming for Jill Scott. 349 days to be exact since her 149th cap but finally today she will reach the quite frankly ridiculous 150. Scott has had to be extremely patient waiting for this moment, a game against Germany in October was cancelled after a positive Covid-19 test and another game, planned for December v Norway also had to be canned.
Today’s friendly international against Northern Ireland will finally bring that moment for a true England great. Only the great Fara Williams, who ended her career on 174 caps is above the 33-year-old, who is currently on-loan at Everton from Manchester City. But ‘Crouchy’ as she is nicknamed for her 5ft 11in frame, wasn’t always guaranteed to make it in football.
Due to her tall stature, she was an excellent long distance runner as a youngster and that endless energy is something she has carried into her footballing career. As a Sunderland youth player former England u19 manager Mo Marley took a chance on her and called her up to her squad due to her physical attributes, even though Scott admits herself she wasn’t the best technical player.
Her England career really kicked on when she was included as a bit of a wildcard in the 2007 World Cup squad. At just 20 years old, this was a high-pressure environment under coach Hope Powell but she thrived under the pressure. After putting in a good display from the bench after replacing England’s best ever player Kelly Smith in the opening game against Japan, she won a starting spot for the remainder of the tournament and even scored in the final group game v Argentina. The Lionesses lost in the quarter-finals to the USA but from there, Scott has barely left the starting XI.
Ever present, Scott has starred at four World Cups in total and been a key cog as England have emerged as a true force on the world stage, finishing third in 2015 and fourth in 2019. Every single manager over the past 14 years, Hope Powell, Mark Sampson, Mo Marley and Phil Neville have seen what she can bring to the table and had to include her in the side.
Now she will have to prove herself to interim boss Hege Riise as she takes charge of her first game and incoming boss Sariga Wiemann who takes charge in September but given her past, this shouldn’t be an issue, even at 33 years old.
For all her skill, class and leadership skills, Scott is by no-means squeaky clean. Like every great footballer, she has an infectious personality and just makes others around her smile. Due to the lack of facilities in the 2000s, the Lionesses were sent to prisons to do gym work. A group in the north-east, spearheaded by Scott but also including Steph Houghton and Jordan Nobbs, used to go in twice a week to lift weights.
England’s physical performance coach Dawn Scott (no relation) said last year: “The trainer would meet them at the reception and lead them through the prison. Jill being Jill, full of energy, nothing malicious, would mess around and she got banned from going for a while.”
Although 2020 was tough for a lot of people and Scott has been made to wait for her 150th appearance, she did have a big reason to smile back in March as she got engaged to long-term partner Shelly Unitt. Scott may be on course to tie the knot at some point in the near future, but the Lionesses’ have been in love with her since 2006.