Alex Scott washed Arsenal men's kits to boost £50 football earnings

Alex Scott reveals she used to wash mud out of Arsenal men’s kits to earn money because female players only made £50 a match – but now BBC star earns £195,000-a-year from punditry role

  • Ex England and Arsenal star was spotted aged just eight playing football with boys in a cage in Tower Hamlets – kickstarting her football career
  • At Arsenal, she told Time Out she would wash the men’s kits to top up money earned from playing because she only made between £50 and £200 a match
  • This week, her BBC punditry earnings were listed as between £190 and £195K a year – with other roles including hosting The One Show 
  • Scott said ahead of the Euros, which she’s commentating on, that it was her job to ‘change perceptions’ by talking about football 

BBC One Show star and Euros football pundit Alex Scott has revealed how she took a job in the laundry at Arsenal to top up lowly wages from her own football career. 

In an interview with Time Out magazine, the 37-year-old former Arsenal and England defender said she was ‘basically Dot Cotton’ – alluding to EastEnders’ famous launderette manager – during her early years playing for the North London club.

She told the publication that Arsenal Ladies manager Vic Akers would find young female players jobs to boost their wages – which was between just £50 and £200 a match.

Scott explained: ‘I’d be scrubbing the men’s kits every Monday. If they’d played on a Sunday and it was winter I’d be trying to scrub the mud out of the shorts. I was basically Dot Cotton.’ 

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Ex England and Arsenal star was spotted aged just eight playing football with boys in a cage in Tower Hamlets – kickstarting her football career (Pictured in a football cage for her BBC documentary Alex Scott: The Future Of Women’s Football)

At Arsenal, Scott would wash the men’s kits to top up money earned from playing because she only made between £50 and £200 a match – pictured with then Arsenal star Ian Wright

This week, her BBC punditry earnings were listed as between £190 and £195K a year – with other roles including hosting The One Show (Pictured presenting alongside Ian Wright and Gabby Logan at the Euros)

She told Time Out that growing up her ‘happy place’ was a football cage in Tower Hamlets – and she almost turned down an offer to train at Arsenal after being scouted in the early 90s

The star, who grew up on an East London council estate, has covered all of the Lionesses games so far at the Euros alongside Gabby Logan and a series of guest pundits.

She told Time Out that growing up her ‘happy place’ was a football cage in Tower Hamlets – and she almost turned down Akers offer to train at Arsenal after he scouted her playing football with boys aged just eight in the early 90s. 

‘My first reaction was like, “Nah, I don’t want to.” Because my happy place was there, playing in the cage. It’s not until he made me go down for that trial that my life changed.’

Last month, Scott revealed the BBC offered to take her off air after she received death threats and misogynistic messages online.

The presenter has forged a hugely successful – and lucrative career as both a presenter and a pundit, but admits the transition from the pitch to in front of the camera has not been easy.

She has faced push back, including from former Labour minister and ex-House of Lords member Digby Jones last year, who criticised her pronunciation and asked if someone could give her elocution lessons.

Alex Scott said she wants to continue as a football presenter – despite receiving misogynistic remarks – as she feels it is her ‘responsibility to change perceptions’

She has faced push back, including from former Labour minister and ex-House of Lords member Digby Jones last year, who criticised her pronunciation and asked if someone could give her elocution lessons

Scott has forged a hugely successful career as both a presenter and a pundit, but admits the transition from the pitch to in front of the camera has not been easy (pictured as a youngster)

In an interview with the Radio Times in June, Scott – who has previously admitted social media abuse made her turn to alcohol – revealed she told the BBC’s director of sport, Barbara Slater, that she ‘didn’t want to be taken off air because then who wins?’

She added: ‘I’ve had so many tweets saying I should be at home ironing or cooking.

‘I don’t care about those, but sometimes people threaten my life and those have to be taken seriously.

‘It’s my responsibility to change perceptions by sitting in that chair and talking about football.’

Scott previously admitted in an interview on mental health with fellow footballer Troy Deeney that she sought comfort in alcohol after being bombarded with abusive messages online.

‘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.’

The female England squad will be led by Dutch manager Sarina Wiegman, who won the Women’s Euros with the Netherlands in 2017.

England’s first test will come on the opening night as they face Austria at Old Trafford.

Female football has steadily become more popular over the years, with more women and girls picking up the sport, according to the Football Association.

Scott noted the game’s growth has had its downsides and feels diversity within the teams needs to be addressed.

She said concrete pitches in council estate areas ‘aren’t as important anymore’ as ‘academies have appeared that are maybe two hours away, and an inner-city street kid doesn’t have the financial means to access them’.

‘One of the girls I’m mentoring said that when she looks at the England team she doesn’t see herself represented… That needs to be addressed,’ she said.

Gabby Logan, who is leading the BBC’s TV coverage of the tournament, hopes it will continue to inspire young girls to pick up the sport.

She said: ‘Spain might be the bookies’ favourites, but some of the England squad have been treated like professionals since they were in their teens and so, yes, it feels like a good time.

‘I’m going to say it: England can win, and then a whole generation of young girls will be inspired to play football.’

Read the full interview in the Radio Times, out now.

Alex Scott: The girl who dreamed of playing at Wembley, showed up Alan Shearer, dined with Putin and won legion of fans on Strictly 

Former England star Alex Scott has forged a successful career as a pundit on Sky Sports and the BBC ever since she hung up her football boots.

The 37-year-old dreamed of playing at Wembley Stadium, dined with Russian President Vladimir Putin and won a legion of new fans after appearing on Strictly Come Dancing – and was the face of the BBC’s coverage at the Tokyo Olympics as well as the upcoming Women’s European Championships.

In 2020, Scott was tipped as Sue Barker’s successor on the long-running BBC sports show Question Of Sport after Barker was axed after 24 years alongside team captains Matt Dawson and Phil Tufnell. 

But she lost out on the job to comedian Paddy McGuinness, a move met by some BBC viewers with horror. 

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.

Former England star Alex Scott has forged a successful career as a pundit on Sky Sports and the BBC ever since she hung up her football boots 


From the pitch to the ballroom: Alex played for England and Arsenal before becoming a successful TV presenter (left in 2017). Right, on Strictly in 2019 

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. 

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.’

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

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.’

Scott pictured at the UEFA Women’s Euro 2017

Speaking to Hello! magazine alongside her Strictly partner in 2019, 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.

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]

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

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.

The former Arsenal right-back was taken on by the London club at the age of just 8

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.

But Scott said her presence on screen in a traditionally male-dominated profession triggered horrendous abuse which began while she was still playing.

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, 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

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