England’s Euro 2022 winning midfielder Jill Scott has announced her retirement from football after a career that saw her win 161 international caps.
The 35-year-old represented the Lionesses in 10 international tournaments and won every domestic honour during her time in the game, including a Women’s Super League title with Manchester City.
Scott was a substitute as England defeated Germany in extra time at Wembley to win their first major international title and was a popular figure in the Lionesses’ camp and throughout her career.
She sits second on England’s all-time list of most capped players and her announcement comes after record goalscorer Ellen White called time on her career on Monday.
England manager Sarina Wiegman described Scott as an “icon” while Lionesses team-mate Beth Mead said she was a “legend” and a “pioneer of the game”. The FA plan to honour Scott’s career at an upcoming England match this autumn.
Scott announced her retirement in an article for thePlayers Tribune in which she reflected on her 18-year career and the progress of women’s football during that time.
“I may be saying my goodbyes to football, but we’re going to make this a celebration,” Scott wrote. “No sad faces!! We’ve had too much fun for any tears.
“Maybe it’s because I’m from Sunderland, but two things have always been true about me: I’ve always been stubborn and I’ve always loved football.
“It’s been in my blood ever since I was five years old. I saw a load of boys playing in the school yard and I walked straight up to them and said the four magic words…’Can I play too?’.
“Imagine, if you would have told me then that I’d go on to play for England for 16 years? If you would have told me that I’d live to see 90,000 people packed into Wembley Stadium for a women’s European final? And that I’d be playing in it? Impossible.”
Jill Scott hugs Prince William after winning Euro 2022
England team-mate Beth Mead paid tribute to Scott on Twitter, writing: “My goodness, where to start. A pioneer of the game, a legend, a hero but most of all a friend for life. I am so lucky to have been part of your journey and call myself a team-mate. You’ll be so so missed from the team and most of all the game. Thank you for everything.”
While Wiegman, who only worked with Scott briefly but became an important player in her squad during England’s Euro 2022 run, added: “I must congratulate Jill on a very special career. I am so glad she was able to end on such a positive memory. It will be hard to imagine an England squad without her as she has been an icon of the team for so long. I respect her decision, but we will miss her positive impact on and off of the pitch for sure.
“To be able to play at the highest level for so long tells you how good a player Jill has been, and her story is a positive example that others will continue to follow. She still has a huge amount to offer, so I hope she won’t be lost to the women’s game in the future – whatever that role may be. She is a very special person, and although it was only for a short period, I feel privileged to have had the chance to work with her.”
Scott began her career with hometown Sunderland before spending seven years at Everton and then joining City in 2013. She later had loan spells back at Everton and Aston Villa. She won every domestic honour during her time in the game, including the Women’s Super League title with City in 2017.
Other career highlights include scoring England’s winner against Holland in the Euro 2009 semi-finals and also netting in City’s 2017 Women’s FA Cup final victory over Birmingham. She also represented Great Britain at the 2012 and delayed 2020 Olympics.
Scott was without a club next season after leaving City and her final appearance was as an impact substitute against Germany in the Euro 2022 final. Scott went viral during the final as the TV cameras picked up her swearing on the pitch, before she hugged Prince William when receiving her winner’s medal.
“It was just such a massive relief for me, because at 35 years old, I knew it was my last go,” Scott wrote. “I just wanted to give absolutely everything I had left to this team, no matter what that meant.
“That tournament … what can I even say? I am just a big ball of disbelief, even now. I have a gold medal. I can’t stop looking at it, three weeks later. It’s so heavy. It’s so real. I keep dropping it, and I have to ask myself: Was I really there? Did this really happen? Did I really swear live on TV?? Did I really hug Prince William?
“I think he broke royal protocol when he gave us this big cuddle, but you could see it in his face — he was just so happy for us. He’s followed our journey all the way along. I just kept saying to him “I can’t believe it, I can’t believe it.”
Additional reporting by PA