Alex Scott: From Player to Pundit

From left to right: Alex Scott training with Arsenal and Alex Scott working as a sports pundit.

Throughout the month of October, Her Football Hub celebrates Black History Month. The importance of this month-long observance is to put a spotlight on black identity. Here, we bring to you a series of articles that highlight the scope of black history through the lens of women’s football.

This year, the Black Lives Matter movement struck a chord. As communities call for much needed societal change, it is important that we don’t lose focus within our footballing industry during October’s Black History Month.

One footballing persona that deserves the spotlight is Alex Scott MBE. After all, when it comes to trophy cabinets and lifting silverware, no one is more familiar with it than the former Arsenal and Lioness full-back.

A decorated playing career

Brought up in an East London council estate, Alex Scott caught the eyes of Arsenal when she was just 8-years-old. In her 12 years playing for the club, she won 21 major domestic trophies, including the domestic treble.

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In 2004, she made her international debut for the Lionesses against the Netherlands. Scott went on to receive 140 caps for the Lionesses and became a figurehead of the women’s game. This included 4 Euro appearances and 3 World Cups. Many regard Scott as one of the best defenders to ever put on the England jersey.

In 2012, Scott added Olympian to her résumé by way of Team GB for the London Olympics.

It was during Arsenal’s 2006/07 season, that Alex marked a place in Gunner hearts forever. The Ladies made history after becoming the first British side to win the Women’s UEFA Cup. It was Scott’s 91st minute wonder strike against Sweden’s Umea IC that saw the Gunners secure the trophy.

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Off the pitch, Scott was raising the profile of women’s football and supporting grassroots girls clubs across England. As an inspiration to young girls and a growing household name, Scott earned a place on the New Years Honours List. In 2017, she received a MBE for her services to football.

It was then later that year when she hung up her boots for the final time aged 32.

A move to punditry

Since then, Alex Scott’s broadcasting career has gone from strength to strength. At the Men’s 2018 World Cup, she became one of the first female pundits to cover a men’s international tournament. Scott was breaking new broadcast boundaries and progressing the role of women in sport.

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However, being a female in sport setting can be tough. No one knows this more than Scott, who has always been open with her issues regarding constant online trolling.

The issue that has been centred around her for the last 2 years, reached a new level during September 2020, when Sue Barker announced she was leaving ‘A Question of Sport’. Scott’s name was immediately thrown into the ring as a rumoured replacement. The possible takeover as the show host, sparked racist trolls to label the move as “box-ticking” and “tokenism.”

Just weeks before, male and female BAME pundits received racial abuse in response to Sky’s sacking of three white pundits. The choice to remove Matt Le Tissier, Charlie Nicholas and Phil Thompson from their renowned spot, sparked backlash from the public. Scott, Clinton Morrison, and Micah Richards were subjected to abuse as the cause of the decision to axe the famous trio.

Support from a hero

Coming to the defence of these pundits, was former footballer and now pundit Ian Wright. Taking to Twitter, Wright pointed out to the racist trolls that it was “Sky’s decision to evolve the show.” It was in fact a cost-cutting strategy and not anything to do with racial change.

Wright went on to say, “Alex Scott for me is one of the best prepared pundits out there.” The idea that her employment was just for “box-ticking” is ludicrous.

As a regular face on BBC Sport and Soccer Sunday, Scott has carved out a fantastic career for herself. Although the trolling may never go away, the vast majority of those who are football-minded know how talented she is, both on and off the pitch.

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