Fortunately for City, we have more than one.
Affectionately known as ‘Obvious Jill’ – Queen of ‘stating the obvious’ – the England star has been (needless to say!) absolutely essential to City’s remarkable journey since signing in November 2013 as one of Nick Cushing’s very first recruits.
In fact, that declaration may well be an understatement. Would we have enjoyed such success without the midfield maverick? Perhaps not…
Captain Houghton – one of Jill’s closest friends and long-standing teammates – once described her fellow North East native as ‘the heartbeat of the team on and off the pitch’.
It’s hard to disagree: not only has the 33-year-old chipped in with some crucial goals in our glory days – including our very first Champions League strike and the goal which gripped one hand on our first FA Women’s Super League trophy – she has cemented her status as one of our most consistent performers, proving equally influential off the pitch.
Complementing her impressive physical skillset (and a very good pair of lungs!), the playmaker is known for her crazy sense of humour and infectious personality but holds her role model status in the highest regard.
Earlier this year, she was deservedly recognised in the New Year’s Honours list for her services to football but – never one to blow her own trumpet – panicked thinking she’d received a parking ticket and almost dropped the Christmas baubles when she received the call, in the middle of her Christmas shopping!
Having just turned 33, she admits questions are starting to be asked of her fitness. Is she planning to wind down anytime soon?
“There’s still life left in these legs, touch wood!” she joked, ahead of the 2019/20 campaign – her sixth year at the Club. “I’m enjoying my football and as long as I’m judged on my performance and not my age, I’ll be happy.
“Yes, I’m getting a bit older but that means I’m hungrier than ever to succeed because I know the opportunities will not come as often.”
Scott also teases that the young faces in City’s star-studded squad keep her young, although she admits she doesn’t always understand their lingo!
One piece of advice she will give the youngsters is to appreciate their current situation because (as Jill will tell you), the more experienced members of the team endured much tougher circumstances, juggling several jobs in addition to their unpaid training and matches, enduring late nights and early starts without real hope of carving out a career in the beautiful game.
It is no secret that Scott herself worked harder than most to pursue her dream. Like many, she started out playing in a boys’ team as a youngster (famously earning the headline: ‘Jill is proud to be a Man!’ when opting not to rename her ‘Man of the Match’ award). As a teenager, she was employed in a full-time coaching role as a teenager in her native Sunderland before travelling to Everton for her football fix, playing against 30-year-old women and even helping out the Toffees’ Media Team; living on a diet today’s nutritionists would recoil at!
Upon joining City, she hailed the Club’s commitment to providing professional opportunities for women and to this day, expresses her appreciation, having suffered the hardships of amateur and semi-professional status for so long.
“I don’t think people realise how much it means to us – to be able to train every day, have breakfast, have your kit washed...” she concedes. “I’ll always be grateful because I know how difficult it was.”
It is fitting that her story should unfold a fairytale ending. After waiting for almost 15 years to savour league title success, Scott bagged the goal which sent City on our way in the 2016 decider against Chelsea, rising highest (of course, at 5’11”!) to head home the opener in our 2-0 win – an achievement she regards as one of her best.
“I can’t put it into words,” she grinned after the game. “Personally, I’ve tried to win this thing for the past 14 years so today is very special. I’d like to say a massive thank you to this club for allowing us the opportunity to play for this badge.”
Ever humble, she often credits those working behind-the-scenes for her success, and has always maintained that while she does not consider herself amongst the most technically gifted, she judges her own performance on the amount of effort she generates – evident with the fact she quite simply never stops running until the very last second.
She explains: “I always said: if I could look myself in the mirror at the end of the day and say I’d given my all, I’d be happy. ‘If I’m successful, I’m successful but if not, at least I tried my best.’”
Her stamina almost led to a career as a runner. Excelling at cross country at school and with the Sunderland Harriers, she won several medals and titles in the North East but for football’s sake (and ours), it’s a good thing she chose the beautiful game…