If she goes, and she is taking nothing for granted, this summer’s Women’s World Cup will be Alex Scott’s sixth tournament as an England international. Canada will be a long way, in every sense, from playing with the boys in what she calls “a cage” by a trunk road in east London.
It is not something she imagined was possible then, nor even when, as an 11-year-old, she was catching the bus to Highbury for training, or at 16, washing the men’s kit in Arsenal’s laundry.
Which is why, this winter, Scott was out running and in the gym, putting in the hard yards even before Arsenal began pre-season training. England manager Mark Sampson has shown he is no respecter of reputations and, even though Scott is vice-captain, she says: “I know that my place isn’t guaranteed and I don’t want to be the one sat at home, thinking ‘what if… what could I have done?’ I hope that Mark looks at my experience, what I have done in other tournaments.”
After a chastening 3-0 home defeat by Germany in November, Sampson has recalled experience for Friday’s Milton Keynes friendly against the United States in the form of former captain Casey Stoney and midfielder Katie Chapman.
Germany, admitted Scott, “was a wake-up call” after 10 straight wins in qualifying. She added: “I think it was one we needed. Everything had kind of gone our way, even the Sweden [friendly], which was supposed to be a test for us, ended up being a great win [4-1]. Germany gave us things that we need to work on and it opened our eyes. The buzz is still really positive, but that’s the benchmark.”
The United States have long operated at the highest level, but will be less intimidating because many players will be familiar to Scott, Eniola Aluko and Lianne Sanderson after years of playing in the States alongside them.
“I will have played against all of them,” said Scott, “but one of my closest friends is Lauren Holiday [of Kansas City].” The pair, both international centurions, played for Boston Breakers. “I loved my three years in Boston,” said Scott. “It was a time in my career that I needed to push on. The training intensity, their mentality, their attitude to be the best. They will train until they are being sick on the training field. That’s why we need to be at the top of our game.”
Having arrived with people asking who she was, Scott was voted into the All-Star team in her first season, a huge confidence boost. “I could concentrate purely on training and being the best I could. I didn’t have to worry [about other jobs].
“When I came out of the [Arsenal] laundry, I was a part-time teacher in BTEC sports science. I remember coming back on the Sunday night on the team coach, trying to write lesson plans, thinking, ‘God this is hard’. It was hard to juggle everything.”
Scott, 30, is making plans to move from playing football to reporting it. Her columns in The Independent and i are a part of that, but she hopes to be making the headlines for a while yet, not writing them.Reuse content