Ex-England and Arsenal defender Alex Scott believes the Lionesses should be looking to win the 2019 World Cup in France.
The Arsenal defender recently retired from international football after accumulating 140 caps for England. With the next World Cup taking place in France in two years’ time, Scott spoke to FIFA about the tournament and the recent growth of the England team.
On the tournament, Scott already envisions big crowds and plenty of expectation. “I can already picture the crowds and the atmosphere in France,” she said. “Every World Cup is always bigger than the last, so the excitement building around 2019 is already huge.
“The expectation for England can’t just to be happy to qualify anymore and to simply take part, because we have worked so hard to get to this level. I suppose you always want to get a medal, and having tasted the bronze we should want to turn that into gold. That has to be the ultimate aim.”
Women’s football is popular in France and attracts good crowds. The game in England isn’t on that level yet but is growing in popularity thanks to the national team’s recent success.
“The growth of the women’s game has been phenomenal, and it has been so rapid. Every tournament there is growth and a gain in confidence. England is not scared any more to play the best teams, and I see it always continuing to rise to new levels. It’s great we’re here, but we can’t be happy. We want the sport to progress even more.”
The England team really came to attention at the 2015 World Cup in Vancouver. They reached the semi-finals, only missing out on the final due to a late own goal, before beating Germany to get third place.
They were one of the favourites to win the recent European Championships in the Netherlands, but lost to the hosts in the semi-finals. Scott believes it was the win over Canada in Vancouver that was a turning point for England.
“[In Vancouver] the atmosphere was electric, so for us to go on and win that game and progress while knocking the host nation out was a big turning point for us. And then of course there was another kind of turning point as we progressed.
“People stayed up late to watch us or went to the pub or were with their family members, and then when we went home people recognised us at the market. It has been happening for a while in England, gaining momentum off the back of tournaments, but our success in 2015 was significant for women’s football back home.”
Scott has had quite the international career herself, having played in 12 World Cup matches and helping her country to their best-ever finish in the competition.