The year is 1992 and a football tournament is taking place for young boys in London. However, one of the scouts at the event, Edwin Lewis, is not concerned with the wannabe Paul Mersons or Ian Wrights, but by the only girl on show - a certain Alex Scott.
At the tender age of eight, Scott was recommended by Lewis to try out for Arsenal Ladies' manager Vic Akers and was successful. In the following 16 years, with a two-year spell at Birmingham City sandwiched in, she had won every single possible trophy at club level, including an unprecedented quadruple of the league, FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Women’s Cup in 2007 - under the guidance of the manager she first impressed all those years ago.
“From a young age Vic installed a winning mentality and a professional attitude,” the right-back told FIFA.com. “He would always tell me the truth about my game and what I needed to work on. Looking back, he has always been that father figure. Even though he could be very harsh, I knew he was only doing it to get the best out of me.”
Striving for personal improvement was the fundamental reason behind Scott’s move to Boston Breakers in 2009, despite reservations about leaving her family, friends and her pet dogs for six months of the year, as well as Arsenal, the club that set her on the road to stardom.
“I got to the point in my development where I thought my game needed to be pushed to another level,” she said. “Getting the chance to play against and with the best international players...well, I couldn’t turn it down. I felt like it was also about experiencing and living life, facing new challenges and taking myself out of my comfort zone in England. I don’t regret my decision one bit, although I’d like to think that one day I’ll have an opportunity to go back to the club where it all started.”
Despite enjoying her time in the WPS - "I come off the pitch at the end of every match knowing that I’ve been in a game and have been challenged on every level,” - there is no doubt that Scott’s heart is in England. Despite being just 26, she has already won 76 caps and scored an impressive 12 goals in the process.
“I can’t believe it’s been seven years since my debut,” she said, smiling. “Probably the best moment of my international career so far was my first game in the last World Cup (against Japan). I have a picture up in my house of the team getting ready to walk up the stairs to the pitch. You can see all the fans that filled the stadium in the picture and every time I look at it, I can still feel all the emotions, the nerves, the joy, the readiness to play that I was feeling all in that one picture.”
Fast-forward four years and Scott is preparing to take on Japan once again, plus Mexico and New Zealand, in Group B at this year's FIFA Women's World Cup™, and the sense of anticipation is growing with the day.
“I’m hearing so much about this World Cup in Germany, it’s hard not to get excited,” she said. “As a team and as a player you always go into a World Cup saying you want to win it, but you have to break it down into stages then evaluate where you are after each stage, so as a team, we have to say our first goal would be to get out of the group. As an individual, I want to be recognised as one of the best attacking right-backs in the tournament.
“I need to make sure that I am in the best possible shape I have ever been in going into this World Cup. We have a rigorous national team programme that we all have to follow, and if you fall short of the guidelines, you run the risk of not being on the plane. So the next six weeks consist of a lot of hard work, both physically and technically. Our main focus is making sure that we peak at the right time, so that come the opening game and that first whistle we are ready to go.”
England meet Sweden in a friendly match on 17 May as their preparation for Germany 2011 continues. Missing from Hope Powell’s squad will be Faye White and Fara Williams, who have both sustained knee injuries and are working hard to reach peak fitness for the Three Lions' first game against Mexico in Wolfsburg on 27 June.
“When you’re so close to a World Cup, missing it through injury does go through your mind as a player, but you can’t let it be your mindset for long,” Scott stressed. “If I go into every training session or game before Germany worried about whether I am going to get injured or not, I am putting myself more at harm because I’ll be playing tentatively.
“You have to be fully committed to what you are doing at all times. Plus, I am a strong believer that things always happen for a reason. There are always obstacles - you can let them stop you or you can find a way over them and become an even stronger person.”