Women's World Cup: England lifted by joker Jill Scott

By Alistair MagowanBBC Sport in Leverkusen
Video diary helps England team relax

It would not be far from the truth to say that the form of midfielder Jill Scott has mirrored that of England at the Women's World Cup in Germany.

After a rusty performance against Mexico, the team found themselves 1-0 down to New Zealand with half an hour to go and staring at an early trip home.

It was then that Scott made her mark. Pushed further forward to support England's strikers, the Everton midfielder rose to meet Alex Scott's cross and headed home an equaliser.

Rather than celebrate wildly, Scott sprinted back to the half-way line, urging her team to find another goal. Nine minutes from time, it was the charismatic 24-year-old who laid on the winner for Jess Clarke to put England back in control of their own destiny.

Scott was pivotal, too, in England's best performance so far, in the 2-0 win against Japan, picking up the player of the match award and helping guide the team to a last-eight tie with France on Saturday.

Highlights - New Zealand 1-2 England

Scott's role has not been limited to inspiring the team on the pitch either.

The 5ft 11in player, who is nicknamed 'Crouchy' by her team-mates, has taken on the equally important task of keeping the mood relaxed by recording a video diaryexternal-link.

In the five episodes so far, Scott has given fans a look behind the scenes in the England camp and, with with her dry delivery and a strong Sunderland accent, has been able to make a funny moment out of almost any situation.

Monsoon-like training conditions, ice baths and trips to the launderette have all featured in the gaze of Scott's camera - and she says the filming has helped players switch off between games.

"We've had a few shopping trips and a funny trip to the launderette where striker Eniola Aluko tried to wash her clothes in the tumble dryer, with tablets," Scott told BBC Sport.

"She was asking where the water was and it was only when we pointed out that it was a dryer that she realised what was going on.

"It's just to show people what goes on behind the scenes and we do have quite a lot of laughs, so hopefully you can see that from the diaries.

"You don't just want to have football, football, football because we are away for a long time. But all the girls have a very professional attitude and when it's time to switch on and analyse performances or go to the training pitch, we all do that."

Following last summer's men's World Cup in South Africa, some of the England team admitted there were times when boredom became an issue in their small-town base in the South African countryside.

Hope Powell's squad, however, have been staying in city-centre hotels, which have included Wolfsburg, Dresden, Augsburg and now Dusseldorf, ahead of their quarter-final in Leverkusen.

Although the women's team have not drawn the same kind of attention as the men did, Scott believes that having fun together can equate to an improved performance on the pitch.

"I think it used to get me in trouble when I was younger in some of the England camps because they thought I was having too much of a laugh," she admits.

Women's World Cup archive: England beat Japan in 2011

"But as you get older you realise you can do that but keep it in balance.

"It's fantastic being involved in a World Cup but you can be in the hotel a lot. I think it's very important that if we can get our team morale right off the pitch then you can take that on to the pitch. I really do believe that."

Scott says that the importance of squad togetherness has come at a time when higher expectations have been placed on England, compared to the World Cup in China four years ago.

"We had a very important talk from England Under-21 boss Stuart Pearce before we came away, which was brilliant," said Scott. "He said that you've got to remember that it's a squad thing, it's not just about the team that goes on to the pitch.

"I think people don't really see that but the girls have been brilliant and the players that aren't playing are very supportive and positive and ready to come on if needed. I think that has shown - it hasn't just been 11 players involved so far."

Scott's contribution has proved invaluable to Powell's side, which aims to reach the World Cup semi-finals for the first time.

And the team may be thankful that, as a talented 1500m runner in her youth, Scott preferred team camaraderie over personal glory.

"It just felt better winning as a team than as an individual and I haven't regretted my decision so far," she said. Nor have England.