Scott seeks consolation after ‘shattering’ US defeat
England midfielder says losing never gets easier Sweden game ‘offers the chance to end on a high’
Jill Scott fell asleep during Holland’s extra-time win over England’s third-place World Cup play-off opponents Sweden – but only because she had not slept at all the night before.
England’s rangy midfielder was one of about 11 players who stayed up for most of the night “and talked about how we were feeling, trying to empty our heads a little bit” in the aftermath of their semi-final defeat by the United States.
Scott was a member of Mark Sampson’s squad in Canada in 2015 when Laura Bassett’s own goal condemned them to the same fate.
Their World Cup semi-final defeat by Japan that year, she said, “felt like a bigger blow in a weird way because it literally was the last kick of the game”.
She is still “not over it. It hurts. It really does. I still think about 2009 [Euros, when England finished second to Germany] even though we probably had no chance of beating Germany in the final. There’s so many more lows than highs. They don’t get any easier. They hurt more because you know there’s going to be fewer opportunities, especially as an older player.
“When something bad happens, perhaps people feel like they all have to react in exactly the same way, that they have to look upset. I would never judge if I saw someone smile. Sometimes, it even means that you are hurting more.
“We do a lot of work on personality and if I’m going through a bad moment, I try to hide how I’m feeling by being joyful because I’m more embarrassed. We have now created an environment where people don’t judge.
“Some might want to go to bed, some might ring their family. We played a bit of music to try and forget about it, I suppose. Do you forget about it? No, but for that moment, you’re all going to be awake for a few hours. For me, it’s nice to be surrounded by people going through the same thing. If you ring home, sometimes people don’t understand.”
Phil Neville replicated Sampson’s strategy of 2015 of allowing players space and time with their families the day after the defeat.
Scott, 32, has been one of England’s better players at this tournament and has insisted throughout that she cannot yet, though her body feels fine, make a judgment on whether she will be here for England’s next World Cup. Yet this tournament has brought the best form of her international career, from her persistence and range on the field to her quiet leadership off.
Scott insisted the squad do not have “regrets” but acknowledged that the intensity of the last two years, and the relentless drive to win the World Cup, exacerbated the emptiness that followed their defeat. “I never like to use the word ‘sacrifice’ because I do think we have got the best job in the world,” Scott said, “but I know the past couple of years have been the least I’ve seen my family. I’ve missed out on so much stuff. I don’t know what a weekend looks like. It’s just football.
“You do give everything to it, so when in a minute everything is taken from you in a World Cup semi-final, it really is shattering. Sometimes you think it would have been easier to go home after it because everything has gone. “But in a weird way, this is the part of the sport I enjoy. I love this part of it. You are so low and you’ve got to get yourself back up now and take some good from this tournament. That’s one bit I’m excited for. I’m not going to sit here and lie and say it doesn’t hurt, because it hurts now and it will hurt for a long time after. But I’m desperate to end this tournament on a high.”
Total dejection: Jill Scott after England’s defeat in the semi-final