England captain Steph Houghton has hailed “legend” Jill Scott as her Manchester City team-mate prepares to win her 150th cap for her country.
Scott, who returned on loan to former club Everton last month, will reach the milestone on Tuesday when the Lionesses play Northern Ireland at St George’s Park.
The 34-year-old made her debut against Holland in 2006 and only Fara Williams, who won 172 caps, has played more times for England.
Houghton, like Scott, hails from the north-east of England and the pair have been friends since they were teenagers, and the skipper has spoken of her pride and admiration for the midfielder.
“I think the word legend is sometimes thrown around a bit but to be only the second person to get 150 caps is absolutely unbelievable and I am so proud of her. She is a legend in my eyes,” said Houghton.
“Everybody looks up to her and looks at what she does. To play that many times doesn’t come through luck, it comes through hard work and wanting to improve and learn and wanting to put in all that effort that nobody sees.
“She’s an unbelievable footballer. She’s one of the first names on the team sheet and one of the best midfielders in the world and she’s shown such a consistent level of performance for so long, it’s unbelievable.
“I’m full of admiration for her, and the team are as well. I think she’s still got a few years left if she wants to, but we will all be so proud of her tomorrow and she deserves every good comment and plaudit that she gets because I know how hard she works and what it means to her to play for England.
“She’s a legend in my eyes and I’d have her in my team whatever team I’m in because I appreciate all the dirty work that she does that people might not see or recognise.
“People get stuck on goals and awards or whatever it might be but when you’re part of a successful team you need players that are willing to do the dirty work and she is definitely one.”
England have not played since March last year, after seeing matches against Germany and Norway cancelled due to coronavirus.
Tuesday will see former Norway midfielder Hege Riise, who won 188 caps for her country, take charge of her first game for the Lionesses as interim manager, with Netherlands boss Sarina Wiegman due to take over permanently in September following Phil Neville’s departure last month.
Houghton said: “Everybody was dying to get back into England colours and with the new manager coming in everyone has been eager to impress. It’s about us trying to get to know what they want from us as players and listening to the detail that we get.
“Hege is very quiet and reserved but when she speaks you listen. She is about an attacking style of play, lots of switches of the ball and over the last few days it’s been interesting to hear what she wants from an attacking and defensive point of view.”
The Lionesses have lost seven of their last 11 matches and Houghton said: “We are excited and just can’t wait to put on the England shirt again.
“There’s a bit of frustration there but we can’t wait to get playing and show everyone what we’ve been working on and get back into the rhythm of playing for England again.
“There’s been talk about performances and results and we want to start to put things right again on Tuesday.”