As I wake up in my hotel room in Vancouver on Saturday morning everyone at home will be winding down as the evenings start to draw in. Here in Canada I will be preparing to face the home nation in a World Cup quarter-final with my team-mates. We are now down in the history books after beating Norway on Monday as the first England women’s team to have won a knockout game in a World Cup. We are only the third England team, male or female, to come from a goal behind to win a game in the knockout phase.
Creating history like this is great. Nonetheless, it is not worth settling for in my eyes. We want more. Winning Saturday night’s quarter-final and making a semi-final would be another first for this team and that is something that I cannot wait to achieve.
It was a superb goal by Lucy Bronze to send us through to the last eight, a headline-grabbing goal that caught the attention of those at home. To the outside world Lucy and I are competing for the right-back spot that I have nailed down for the past decade. However, for me it is not like that. Obviously you want to be number one, but not to the detriment of someone else.
I will never forget how US international Heather Mitts, who was regarded as the best right-back in the world for more than a decade and was a three-time Olympic gold medalist, reacted to being moved to left-back after I took her favoured position when we were team-mates in Boston. Instead of moaning and making my life hell, she worked with me every day after training on things that I may not have pushed myself to work on otherwise. We formed a great friendship because of it.
I will always be grateful for the life lessons she taught me. I was always aware that one day the boot would be on the other foot and I knew from having that time with Heather that I was always going to be that person she was to me. It is easy to say you are a good team-mate; it is another actually being one when it matters and I know whole-heartedly I am.
I am not sitting here saying "that's it from me" and I am happy to take a back seat, absolutely not. I want to be on that pitch more than anything. If Lucy plays ahead of me, I have supported her every step of the way and I know she will be the same if I am playing. We both have a strong winning mentality and will do what it takes for this team to have winners' medals come 5 July.
I have asked myself the question at times during this tournament: how does this World Cup compare to the other two I have been a part of? It would be easy to say this has been the worst because I have not had the game time I wanted. So, surely, unless I come home with that gold medal this will rank as the lowest of them all? That is not the case though. My outlook on life is different. The thing that I have loved about this World Cup, and what may give it the edge over the other two, is how much of Canada we have been able to see. So far we have stayed in five cities – Toronto, Moncton, Montreal, Ottawa and Vancouver – each giving me different, yet great, experiences. Beside the football these are memories that will stay with me forever.
The coach, Mark Sampson, has trusted the players to be professional away from the pitch and in doing so has given us a lot of freedom and down time that we have all appreciated. I have loved being able to explore every city I have been to. From small but charming Moncton, to Montreal where the old town reminded me of Covent Garden with its cobbled pavements, street acts and the buzz of summer when people are dining outside in all the different restaurants. Then on to Ottawa, where I thought I had found the most amazing city yet, from the food markets to visiting the Notre-Dame Basilica cathedral to taking in a jazz festival. I also discovered a most beautiful spot that overlooked the city and where I found peace as I sat and reflected after being told I would not be starting in the quarter-final.
Then on to Vancouver, and “wow” is all I can say. This is the most amazing city I have ever visited. The contrast is amazing. We are based in the city surrounded by high-rise buildings and a city buzz, but within 10 minutes you can be on top of Grouse Mountain overlooking the whole of Vancouver, one of the most picturesque views I have ever seen.
I got close and personal to grizzly bears while in the mountains – and also managed to drop my phone off the famous Capilano suspension bridge 70 metres into the river below while taking a selfie. Lucky I can laugh at myself – maybe I should not have been so vain in the first place. Ha!
Most recently I took a trip up in a sea plane, which revealed just how spectacular this city is. As I flew over the stadium we will walk out in this evening in front of 55,000 Canadian fans, I couldn’t help but take a deep breath and think to myself this is truly amazing and I do not want the journey to end here.
After all, we’ve not been to Edmonton yet, which is where our semi-final will be.
Alex Scott plays for Arsenal Ladies. She has won 126 caps for EnglandReuse content