Entertainment

From the football pitch to IAC: how Jill Scott gained a new legion of fans

The sports star beat Matt Hancock and Owen Warner to be crowned queen of the jungle.

Former England footballer Jill Scott has cemented her status as a national treasure after being crowned the winner of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! impressing with her nerves of steel and quick wit.

The Lioness, 35, who was part of the Women’s Euro 2022 winning squad, became a firm favourite with viewers, not just for her fearlessness and bravery in tackling a number of Bushtucker trials, but for her sharp one-liners.

After walking along a plank suspended 334ft in the air, having revealed she was afraid of heights, the Sunderland-star comically asked co-hosts Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly: “Where’s the red wine?”.

England v Luxembourg – 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup Qualifying – Group D – Stoke City Stadium
Jill Scott beat Matt Hancock and Owen Warner to be crowned queen of the jungle (PA Wire)

Meanwhile, during the Speak Uneasy challenge with Mike Tindall, the pair were challenged to drink 10 concoctions in a bid to win stars for the camp, with Scott drinking blended fish eyes and blended snails.

While drinking blended goat’s testicle, she quipped: “Agh it’s got hairs in it! Could have had a wax before.”

She was also praised for remaining calm when she needed the help of a medic to remove a cockroach stuck in her ear after volunteering to complete the Unlucky Dip challenge.

As the medic rushed to get it out, Scott joked: “Come to the jungle they said, it would be fun.”

The fierce former footballer also showed her kind-hearted and caring side on the ITV reality show, as viewers saw her try to help fellow campmate and series runner-up Owen Warner who was struggling with the lack of food.

After a gruelling challenge at the Unfair Funfair, Scott picked Warner to have an extra ball over herself so he would have a higher chance of being picked for a beach barbecue out of a tombola.

Similarly, completing a trial while hanging off a flying car, the football star who is afraid of heights said: “I’ve just got Owen’s face in my head and he’d kill us if I didn’t get these stars.”

Scott’s determination never wavered and during her last Bushtucker trial, Rat Run, she worked to conquer her fear of rats and secured all of the available stars.

A poignant moment came when Scott explained to her fellow campmates that when she was growing up she would watch David Beckham and Steven Gerrard as there were “no female role models” in football.

She said: “And now I’ll put on my own soccer camps and the girls have the female players on the back of their shirt.”

Scott held her own as the last woman standing in camp after TV presenters Charlene White and Scarlette Douglas, and Coronation Street actress Sue Cleaver, were the first three celebrities voted out.

Her popularity as a campmate was echoed during her time in the England squad, perhaps clearest during the Lionesses’ historic run to their Euro 2022 title this summer.

Scott never started, but each time the midfielder stepped on as a sub she was greeted by a roar from the crowd, perhaps sensing the impending retirement of a long-standing favourite.

The Sunderland native, who scored 27 goals over her 16-year career, featured for England at four World Cups and four European Championships, also representing Great Britain at two Olympic Games.

At the end of 2019, Scott was appointed an MBE in the New Year’s Honours List for her services to football, but the pandemic did not allow her to attend the ceremony – forcing her to pick up her award from the post office.

Team-mates on her popular BBC podcast, Jill Scott’s Coffee Club, have said she seems to be a particular favourite with the Prince of Wales, the two sharing an ongoing yellow card joke after Scott accidentally took out the royal in a side-tackle during a charity match.

And when speaking to City’s official website about her MBE, Scott said: “When I received a call from the Cabinet Office, I was really worried I had done something wrong – that I hadn’t paid a parking fine or something like that.

“I was in shock. I was with my partner, Shelly, shopping for our Christmas tree and I think I dropped half the baubles. That didn’t go down too well. I was just in shock.

“I feel very honoured, but it also seems surreal. I’m just a young girl from Sunderland who fell in love with a game called football. Hopefully it can be an acceptance on behalf of all women’s football.”