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Jill Scott: I feel guilt over sacrifices my family made for my football career

Jill Scott says her family had to make sacrifices for her football career (Amanda Benson/BBC/PA)
Jill Scott says her family had to make sacrifices for her football career (Amanda Benson/BBC/PA) Jill Scott says her family had to make sacrifices for her football career (Amanda Benson/BBC/PA)

Jill Scott said she carries guilt for the sacrifices her family made during her football career – including when she missed the first dance at her sister’s wedding to travel to an FA Cup semi-final match.

The former England midfielder, 36, who played for clubs including Manchester City and Everton, retired last summer after the team made history by winning the European Championship title.

Appearing on BBC Radio 4’s Desert Island Discs, host Lauren Laverne asked about the personal sacrifices that were made for Scott to play at the top level in women’s football.

Scott, from Sunderland, said: “I feel like the sacrifice, maybe, isn’t with me because I got to go and live my best life playing football.

Northern Ireland v England – UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 – Group A – St Mary’s Stadium
Northern Ireland v England – UEFA Women’s Euro 2022 – Group A – St Mary’s Stadium Jill Scott, centre, and her England team-mates applaud the fans after a game at the Euros in 2022 (John Walton/PA)

“But I feel like my family made a big sacrifice because I have been absent from a lot of things.

“My sister’s wedding, I remember going to the wedding and the first dance was about to happen.

“I had to leave because I had an FA Cup semi-final the next day in London, I had drive from Sunderland to London, still had the hairpins in, I think I still had my bridesmaid dress on, so for me not to be there for her first dance and to just leave the wedding.

“They’ve always been so supportive and I still feel this massive, like, amount of guilt. “Maybe the sacrifice wasn’t with me. It was more my family,” she said.

Scott also spoke about sacrifices she made when she first signed for Everton, making the six-hour round trip from her home in Sunderland to Merseyside three times a week.

International Women’s Day
International Women’s Day Jill Scott playing for Everton (Martin Rickett/PA)

She said: “It was difficult in terms of there was a lot of sofa surfing if we had a game the next day, but what I formed (was) the best friendships. We’ve still got a group now.

“I was up and down the motorway probably three times a week just trying to find somewhere to sleep.

“I was working at Gateshead college, I’d finish coaching, I’d get in the car and I was just so excited to be going to football, to be seeing my friends.

“The journeys back were hard if we finished at 10pm and get back to Sunderland. It was a slog but honestly I had the biggest smile on my face.

“I was playing for Everton women’s team with the likes of Rachel Unitt, Fara Williams, these England professionals, and I was just about to start my England journey as well so it’s a very happy time for me.”

When comparing the sacrifices she made in relation to male premier league players who were earning top salaries, she said: “I’ve never thought about the money side and I know it sounds cheesy, I am quite a cheesy person, but I don’t think money makes you happy.

“When I think back at my latter years at Manchester City was the best wages I’d ever been on, but I probably wasn’t enjoying my football.

“And then when I think back to those days in Everton and I remember me and Fern Whelan putting £5 petrol in the car so that we could drive to the cinema, those days I was just so happy back in those days where I probably had £6 in coins in my pocket.”