In May 2010, Jill Scott starred in Everton’s famous extra-time FA Cup final victory over Arsenal. The Gunners had won the competition four years on the trot, were the dominant force in English football and quite simply did not like to be beaten.
The Toffees had been snapping at their heels for years, but bar a 2007/08 League Cup triumph, they had little to show for their efforts.
But that May afternoon at the City Ground saw Everton pull off one of the biggest shocks in Women’s FA Cup history as their years of pushing Arsenal all the way were finally rewarded. It should have been the catalyst for years of success.
Instead, three years later, Scott signed for Manchester City alongside former Everton teammate Toni Duggan. In September 2014, the Toffees were relegated, bringing an end to their 21-year stay in the top flight.
After years of stagnation, Everton have started to rebuild themselves into one of the big forces in the women’s game.
The first signs that the club had real ambitions once more can be traced back to January 2020 when they announced the signing of England international and Champions League winner Izzy Christiansen from Lyon.
The midfielder has excelled this season, chipping in with four goals and four assists and looking an absolute class act.
Australian international Hayley Raso followed, and the club spent big to bring France striker Valerie Gauvin to Merseyside in the summer. Full-back Poppy Pattinson turned down a new contract with Bristol City to sign for the Toffees, telling 90min it was the club’s ambitions that attracted her.
And now, the club have announced the re-signing of England legend Jill Scott on loan until the end of the 2020/21 season – another huge statement signing.
Scott has been an imperious figure for club and country for the last decade and was one of England’s most consistent performer’s at the 2019 World Cup. Her work rate and athleticism remain among the best out there – despite her turning 34 in February.
The midfielder has seen her first-team opportunities at City uncharacteristically limited this term following the arrival of USWNT’s Sam Mewis, who has been quite frankly sensational.
But the lack of minutes and the fact that she is reaching the latter stages of her career absolutely does not mean Scott is past her best. With Mewis away on international duty, Scott seamlessly slotted back into the City starting XI for Sunday’s victory over Aston Villa, getting on the scoresheet and playing a key part in City’s opening goal. With her quality and experience, she can have a big role to play at Everton.
This is the first time in Scott’s career that she has really faced not being a regular starter. It is a testament to her character and eagerness to play football that her first instinct was to move somewhere that she will get minutes on the pitch – potentially with one eye on the 2021 Olympic squad. It is also a testament to Everton’s ambition that they can appeal to someone of Scott’s calibre.
It’s a clever move for Scott and a big capture for Everton, continuing to demonstrate the intent at the club.