Euro 2022 winner Jill Scott is backing England to add the World Cup to their trophy haul as she prepares for a new role as their biggest fan.

The 36-year-old announced her retirement from a glittering playing career in the weeks after helping Sarina Wiegman’s side to European glory last summer, where she won her 161st and last senior international cap in the 2-1 final victory over Germany at Wembley.

England will head for Australia and New Zealand this summer as one of the favourites and Scott is bullish about their chances.

Asked if she will have mixed feelings as she watches Wiegman’s squad head into battle without her Down Under, Scott – who enjoyed a 16-year international career – told the PA news agency: “No, not at all.

“I’m so excited for that next generation of players and you know what? I don’t have to sit on the fence any more, so I’m going to say England are going to win the World Cup.”

Asked further if she believes they have a genuine chance of doing that amid stiff competition from holders the United States, the Germans, Sweden and Spain among others, Scott replied: “Definitely.

“The talent in that squad is incredible. I’ve been so excited watching them and I’m going to be the biggest fan this summer.”

England face an anxious wait for Beth Mead, who won both the golden boot and player of the tournament awards last summer.

Arsenal’s Mead ruptured her anterior cruciate ligament in November and faces a race against time to be fit for the World Cup, something Wiegman is yet to rule out.

Scott said: “I know everybody will be kind of praying and hoping that she makes it. I know she’ll be doing everything she can to try to get back on that pitch as soon as possible, so fingers crossed.”

Scott’s comments came as she became the first of the 23 victorious Lionesses to be honoured by having a Football Foundation-funded pitch named after her, in her case at the Perth Green Community Centre in Jarrow, close to her native Sunderland.

When I walk past people, they’re, ‘There’s that girl from the jungle’. I do still want to be known for my football…

Former England midfielder Jill Scott

The former Sunderland, Everton and Manchester City midfielder had already achieved celebrity status as a result of her football career when she won new fans as ITV’s Queen of the Jungle, and she admits she has been caught up in a whirlwind since.

However, she is determined to be remembered for the former rather than the latter and is planning a return to the training pitch.

She said: “When I walk past people, they’re, ‘there’s that girl from the jungle’. I do still want to be known for my football, so I’m going to be getting back on the grass and coaching very soon and I’m really excited about that.”

Despite her success, Scott has never lost touch with her roots and was joined as she unveiled the pitch named after her by girls from Boldon CA, where she took her first steps in the game as a nine-year-old.

She said with a smile: “I’m a little bit taller, but you know what, I still feel like that girl – and I did right up until that last minute at Wembley, just a young girl that fell in love with football.

“I never thought that I’d have a pitch named after me. It’s an incredibly special day.”

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