Jill Scott retires from professional football

Jill Scott has announced her retirement
Jill Scott has announced her retirement / Visionhaus/GettyImages

England's second-most capped player Jill Scott has announced she will retire from professional football, bringing an end to her 18-year career.

The 35-year-old was capped 161 times for England following her debut in 2006, with her last appearance for her country coming in the Euro 2022 final at Wembley as the Lionesses lifted their maiden piece of silverware with a 2-1 victory over Germany.

She is the second member of England's Euro 2022 winning squad to hang up her boots in as many days, after striker Ellen White announced her retirement on Monday.

Scott appeared in eight major tournaments and two Olympic games, with the Euro 2022 Wembley showpiece the second major tournament final appearance of her career, having hit the extra time semi-final winner at Euro 2009.

At club level, the midfielder represented Sunderland, Everton and Manchester City, and enjoyed a loan spell at Aston Villa during the second half of the 2021/22 season. She won the WSL title with City in 2016, in addition to lifting four FA Cups and three Continental Cups.

"Right, we’re not crying. I promised myself," Scott wrote in The Player's Tribune. "Today, I may be saying my goodbyes to football, but we’re going to make this a celebration. No sad faces!! We’ve had too much fun for any tears. 

"You know the last thing I ever did on a football pitch? It was perfectly me. We had celebrated, the streamers were going off, and I was just sitting there with my medal on the grass for an hour and a half, taking it all in … and I knew, deep in my heart, that this was it. 

"So many memories came back to me. I thought about Sunderland and all the sprints I had done from wall to wall, 10 metres at a time. I thought about showing up to my first England cap with moulds instead of studs! 

"I just sat there and thought: 'Right. If this is it, let’s do one more run.' So I grabbed Lotte Wubben-Moy as well as our Sports scientist Martin and I said: 'You’ve made me do so many box-to-box runs throughout this tournament…. Come on, run one more with us.' That was my way of saying goodbye."

A pioneer of the game, Scott is from the generation who began her career juggling football with full time work, before moving into the professional era and successfully keeping pace with players who have never known anything other than professionalism.

“I must congratulate Jill on a very special career," said England manager Sarina Wiegman. "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.”