Lioness Jill Scott backed for 'I'm a Celebrity...' success by her first South Tyneside football coach
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The 35-year-old, who announced her retirement from football after coming on as a sub in this summer’s Euro final win over Germany, will take on a whole new challenge when she lines up alongside the likes of pop star Boy George, DJ Chris Moyles and Corrie actress Sue Cleaver as the latest series of the popular ITV show hits the nation’s screens on Sunday, November 6.
And the man who set Jill on the path to a glittering career which includes four FA Cup winner’s medals, a Super League title and 161 England caps during spells with Sunderland, Everton, Manchester City and Aston Villa, is backing her to prove a hit with the viewers.
Paul Smith coached a Boldon Girls team which included Jill, as well as England colleagues Steph Houghton and Demi Stokes. Jill was part of the club for six years: “Jill was about nine when she came to me and she left when she was 15,” said Paul.
"I knew she was special. She played with a lot of energy and she was box-to-box – she had everything, really.”
He reckons Jill, from Fulwell in Sunderland, will win the audience over with her personality and attitude: “I think she will do all right because she is very popular,” he said.
"She is very determined and she has a good sense of humour – and she is from the North East, so hopefully she will do well.
"She has got a good attitude.”
England’s success in the summer had seen a huge rise in public recognition for the Lionesses’ stars, said Paul: "I know in the last game, from the reaction she got from the crowd when she came on, that Jill is recognised as a legend now.”
Paul, 67, knows how winning Jill’s personality can be: “She is good with people and she is a bit of a joker at times,” he said.
"I presented her with her shirt before they played the USA, which was very emotional. I was talking to quite a lot of the girls in the bar afterwards and she was very popular with the squad.”