By Amie Gordon for MailOnline
She unlaced her football boots and swapped the pitch for the ballroom, and now Alex Scott could add another string to her bow as rumours abound that she is to take the helm at a Question of Sport.
After days of fevered speculation, the 35-year-old England player-turned-pundit has been tipped as Sue Barker’s successor on the long-running BBC sports show.
From the pitch to the ballroom: Alex played for England and Arsenal before becoming a successful TV presenter (left in 2017). Right, on Strictly last year
Former Strictly contestant Scott, who once revealed she faced threats of rape and acid attacks, could take over next year after Barker, 64, was axed after 24 years, alongside team captains Matt Dawson and Phil Tufnell.
The move will be Scott’s biggest presenting gig to date, having forged a successful career as a pundit on Sky Sports and the BBC.
The former Arsenal right-back, who was brought up on a council estate in Poplar, east London by her single mother, was taken on by the London club aged just eight.
She worked in the Arsenal laundry room as a teenager to make extra cash, before going on to Captain the women’s team and lead them to FA Cup victory.
Alex and Neil were eliminated on week 11 of Strictly, and the footballer’s stint on the show saw her dance alongside Kevin Clifton for two weeks after her dance partner had to pull out temporarily because of an injury
She said it ‘blows my mind’ when young girls hail her as an inspiration.
Speaking last year, she said she didn’t have any female footballers to look up to when she was a child, and instead idolised her mother Carol McKee and Arsenal legend Ian Wright.
Scott founded an academy for young female footballers, finished her career as the second most capped England player with 140 appearances and was awarded an MBE in 2017.
But it hasn’t all been plain sailing. After covering the men’s World Cup in Russia for the BBC in 2018, Scott has been dogged by abuse online and turned to alcohol and underwent therapy in a bid to cope with the trolling.
But the retired Lioness will defy the critics if she takes up the post next year.
Star in the making: The former Arsenal right-back, who was brought up on a council estate in Poplar, east London by her single mother, was taken on by the London club aged just eight
Scott played her last game in 2018, and finished her career as the second most capped England player with 140 appearances, playing in three World Cups. She was awarded an MBE in 2017 – pictured here with her mother, late grandmother and neice
In an interview with the Guardian in 2018, Scott, who was born to parents of Jamaican and Irish descent, detailed the abuse she was subjected to.
She said: ‘The comments were like: ‘I know where you live. I’m going to come and throw acid in your face. I’m going to rape you.”
While she says she’s learned to ignore the comments, she says seeing how ‘it upsets my mum is hard.’
Tea at the Kremlin: The 35-year-old alongside Rio Ferdinand (right) with Vladimir Putin (centre) in 2018
In 2008, Scott moved to US side Boston Breakers for two years before returning to Arsenal, leading her team to an FA Cup victory as Captain.
In 2011 she founded the Alex Scott Academy for female footballers aged 16-19.
The former Arsenal right-back was taken on by the London club at the age of just eight
She played her last game in 2018, and finished her career as the second most capped England player with 140 appearances, playing in three World Cups.
Touching on the growing popularity in women’s football, she told The Sun on Sunday, ‘I love the fact girls have more visibility now. Not just across sport, in all industries.’
The 35-year-old England player-turned-pundit (pictured at the UEFA Women’s Euro 2017) is thought to be Sue Barker’s successor on the long-running BBC sports show
Speaking to Hello! magazine alongside her Strictly partner last year, Alex told the magazine she was single and happy as she denied rumours she and her partner Neil Jones had struck up a romance.
She added: ‘I’m single but it’s not like I need to find someone. I like things to happen organically and if someone comes into my life and we get on, then great. It’s not like I need to go searching for it.’
She said she and Neil shared a ‘connection’ but Scott confirmed she, ‘came out of a long-term relationship’ just before she went on Strictly.
The duo were eliminated on week 11 of Strictly.
Scott captioned this snap: ‘Yes I did work in the Arsenal laundry aged 16/17 to earn some extra cash, and I got to have a photo with my fave [Ian Wright..But I still pinch myself as I fast forward to the now..I managed to go on to captain Arsenal and make a career for myself along the way. #dreambig’ [sic]
After rising to the top of her game in football, Scott went on to become the first female pundit for men’s Premier League games on Sky Sports.
In 2018, she travelled to Russia alongside Rio Ferdinand to meet Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin.
The pair and a host of other ‘world football legends’ – including Peter Schmeichel and Lothar Matthaus – enjoyed tea and cake with the Russian president before gifting him a football shirt emblazoned with his name.
Speaking in 2019, she made clear her ambition to appear on prime time TV when she said she would more than happily ‘put my name in the hat’ should Gary Lineker decide he’s ‘had enough’ of fronting Match of the Day.
Scott played her last game in 2018, and finished her career as the second most capped England player with 140 appearances, playing in three World Cups. She was awarded an MBE in 2017 – pictured here with her mother, late grandmother and niece
But Scott said her presence on screen in a traditionally male-dominated profession triggered horrendous abuse which began while she was still playing.
The former Arsenal right-back was taken on by the London club at the age of just 8
The star was close to her late grandmother, who she ‘listened to for hours about her childhood in Jamaica’
In conversation with Watford captain Troy Deeney as part of the Heads Up campaign focusing on mental health, the star revealed the extent to which the online ‘trolling’ affected her.
‘When I retired, getting trolled, I found that I was turning to drink to try and hide everything, hide what I was feeling,’ she said.
‘I didn’t tell anyone, I didn’t tell my mum because I didn’t want her to worry or put that stress on her. I was just that person (who thought) ‘I can look after myself, I can deal with stuff’ but obviously sometimes that’s the wrong way.
‘I got to a dark place and it was over Christmas, that’s when I was like ‘I can’t carry on like this, it’s not me, I need to seek help’ and that led me into therapy.
Alex pictured in a throwback school photo with her big brother
‘I want to take that stigma away from it. Now when I talk about mental health, straight away I’m smiling because I know what it’s done for me to leave that place. I’m content.
‘I’m happy, and I’ve used the tools that I’ve learned to be in that place.’
Speaking to the Sunday Mirror last year, she said: ‘I had all of it — for being a woman on TV, for being a woman of colour on TV, that I’m ticking a box, death threats.
‘I had the lot. But I’m still standing. All the time I thought, ‘No, I’m good at my job’. That’s why I did my degree, so no one can ever say I’m just there because I’m a tick in a box.’
Speaking after her stint on Strictly, Scott revealed she was undergoing therapy to cope with the abuse, telling the Sun: ‘I would say I’m still on a journey. I’m still in therapy so I’m still learning how to communicate with my emotions more.’
Scott, pictured here as a youngster in east London, said it ‘blows my mind’ when young girls hail her as an inspiration