Former footballer and now one of the most recognisable faces on TV, Alex Scott MBE, has opened up about her osteoarthritis diagnosis she was given during her playing career.
Most notably a right back at WSL side Arsenal and earning the call up to represent England in three World Cups and four European Championships, Scott then started her broadcasting career in 2018 and it seems like the 36-year-old has picked up the tricks of the trade very quickly despite being told that there was no place for her on TV because of her accent and is now part of the BBC’s Olympic coverage which starts at the end of this month having just finished her time as a pundit during the Euros.
But throughout both her football and media careers, one thing the East London native kept under wraps and didn’t want to speak about was when she was in her early 20s, she was told she had osteoarthritis.
Scott was playing in the US at the time she was diagnosed following her draft into the now defunct Women’s United Soccer Association at Boston Breakers which has also since folded.
During a Breakers training session, the England international was on the wrong end of a slide tackle by one of her teammates which caused her first serious footballing injury, and it was this which led Scott to find out that she had osteoarthritis in both ankles.
As she was barely in her 20s, the new face of Football Focus was confused as to what the diagnosis meant for her and struggled to understand why she had it as she was under the impression that osteoarthritis only affected older people.
“When I was first diagnosed with osteoarthritis, my first thought was, ‘That’s a big fancy word, what is it?’,” she explained in a one-to-one interview with FlexiSEQ.
“You automatically associate arthritis with older people who struggle to move, that’s the image that came to mind.”
But Scott’s burning question was - what did she need to do in order to get on the pitch for the next game?
Scott learned very quickly that there was no easy fix, and this was going to affect her for the rest of her life.
According to The State of Musculoskeletal Health report conducted by Versus Arthritis in 2019, a third of people who suffer with osteoarthritis retire early, give up work entirely or reduce the hours that they work – this is something the TV presenter definitely didn’t do.
She didn’t want to let it get her down.
She wanted to say: “Yes to life.”
This was highlighted through her continuing to play the beautiful game even if it meant holding an ice pack to her ankles after every match and agreeing to compete in Strictly Come Dancing after retiring from football, even if she had to wear trainers all week in training and only put heels on to dance in on the night of the performance and be criticised for not being able to point her toes.
“Like everything, it doesn’t stop you, you just find a way,” she revealed.
“I’m a happy-go-lucky person, I have an outlook on life where I feel lucky to be achieving and to have done something I love and to continue now in my new career to be doing something that I love.”
This is the first time Scott has spoken out about her osteoarthritis as she didn’t want people to feel sorry for her but now she’s embracing it and has recently become an ambassador for FlexiSEQ.
FlexiSEQ was launched in 2011 and they are specialists in drug free gels to help alleviate pain and suffering caused by osteoarthritis which can be used long term and alongside medication without drug interactions or making pre-existing conditions worse.
They have launched their ‘Say Yes to Life’ campaign to encourage people living with the condition that they can still live their best life, which is something Scott embodies, she said: “Everyone who knows me will tell you, I have a big “yes to life” mentality.
“If certain people want to tell you no or put their negativity on you, I’m like, ‘you can say no, but I’m here saying yes and I’m finding a way.’
“There’s a whole load of other negative stuff going on in the world, but I can continue to smile and be happy because I’m in a place where there are all these ‘pinch myself’ moments.”
People used to tell Scott that there was no place for her on TV because of her accent – they were wrong.
People would have doubted Scott if they would have known about her osteoarthritis – they would have been wrong.
An FA Cup win, 140 caps for England, an MBE award, and three years in broadcasting later - Scott is getting ready to fly to Tokyo to cover the Olympic Games and prove that osteoarthritis doesn’t have to stop you from doing anything.
Visit FlexiSEQ.com to learn more.
Words by Lucy Roberts for Female First, who you can follow on Twitter, @Lucy_Roberts_72.