Heskey playing for England in 2009
|Full name||Emile William Ivanhoe Heskey|
|Date of birth||11 January 1978|
|Place of birth||Leicester, England|
|Height||6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Emile William Ivanhoe Heskey (born 11 January 1978) is an English former professional footballer who played as a striker. He made more than 500 appearances in the Football League and Premier League over an 18-year career, and represented England in international football. He also had a spell in Australia, playing for the A-League club Newcastle Jets.
Born in Leicester, Heskey started his career with Leicester City after progressing through their youth system, making his first-team debut in 1995. After winning the League Cup in 1997 and 2000 he made an £11 million move to Liverpool in 2000, which, at the time, was the record transfer fee paid by the club. At Liverpool, he won multiple honours, including the FA Cup in 2001. He moved to Birmingham City in 2004 and after their relegation from the Premier League signed for Wigan Athletic for a club record £5.5 million fee in 2006. He signed for Aston Villa in 2009 and was released in 2012 before signing for A-League club Newcastle Jets. After two years, he returned to England, finishing his career with Championship club Bolton Wanderers.
Heskey was an England international at under-16, under-18, under-21, B and senior levels. He made his England debut against Hungary in a 1–1 draw in 1999. He lost his place in the squad after UEFA Euro 2004, during which he failed to shine and was the subject of much criticism. After a long lay-off from international duty, Heskey was recalled to the England squad for UEFA Euro 2008 qualifiers in September 2007. He retired from international football following the 2010 FIFA World Cup, having attained 62 caps and scored 7 goals for his country.
Heskey was born in Leicester, Leicestershire to a family of Antiguan descent, and his father, Tyrone Heskey, ran the security of nightclubs in Leicester. He attended City of Leicester School, Evington.
Heskey was a keen footballer in his childhood and played for Ratby Groby Juniors, a local youth team in Leicester. He stood out amongst his peers and at the age of nine accepted a place at Leicester City's football academy. Progressing through their youth system, he made his first-team debut at the age of 17 while still a first-year trainee in a Premier League match against Queens Park Rangers on 8 March 1995. Leicester were relegated to the First Division following the end of the 1994–95 season and he signed his first professional contract with the club on 3 October 1995. He became a first-team regular in 1995–96, making 30 league appearances. During this season, Heskey scored his first goal, which came in a 1–0 victory over Norwich City, in a season he managed to score seven goals. He helped Leicester earn promotion back to the Premier League, starting in the 1996 First Division play-off Final on 27 May as they beat Crystal Palace 2–1.
During 1996–97, his first in the Premier League, Heskey scored 10 goals in 35 appearances, and scored the equaliser in the 1997 League Cup Final against Middlesbrough, which Leicester won in a replay. Heskey was runner-up to David Beckham for the PFA Young Player of the Year award. The following season, 1997–98, saw interest from Leeds United and Tottenham Hotspur for Heskey, as he again scored 10 Premier League goals, making him Leicester's top scorer that season. However, 1998–99 saw Heskey score only six top-flight goals, and he was criticised for not scoring enough goals and going to ground too easily. During this season however, he forged an effective strike partnership with Tony Cottee, who benefited from Heskey's unselfish style of play, which manager Martin O'Neill claimed kept the club in the Premier League. Heskey started for Leicester in the 1999 League Cup Final on 21 March, in which they were beaten 1–0 by Tottenham Hotspur. He went on to win the League Cup again with a 2–1 win against Tranmere Rovers in the 2000 final on 27 February.
Heskey signed for Liverpool on 10 March 2000 in a long-anticipated £11 million move, which, at the time, set the record transfer fee paid by the Merseyside club. Liverpool manager Gérard Houllier looked forward to working with him, but stated that "at his age he is not the finished product". The press saw the move as expensive and risky as Heskey was relatively inexperienced and was not a prolific goalscorer. However, he was held in high regard by both the England under-21 manager, Peter Taylor, and England and Liverpool teammate Michael Owen. Veteran Liverpool striker Ian Rush approved of the signing, noting that Heskey would "give Liverpool a different dimension", bringing strength to the Liverpool strikeforce and complementing Owen and Robbie Fowler's pacey play. Heskey made his debut in an Premier League clash with Sunderland on 11 March 2000 and scored his first goal in a 3–0 victory over Coventry City on 1 April. He finished 1999–2000 with 12 appearances and 3 goals for Liverpool.
He started in the 2001 League Cup Final on 25 February, in which Liverpool beat Birmingham City 5–4 on penalties after a 1–1 extra-time draw. He played in the 2001 FA Cup Final on 12 May 2001, starting ahead of Fowler, which Liverpool won 2–1 against Arsenal. Four days later, Heskey started in the 2001 UEFA Cup Final, in which Liverpool beat Deportivo Alavés 5–4 after extra time. In 2000–01, Heskey scored 22 goals for Liverpool as the club won the FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Cup treble. He started for Liverpool in the 2001 FA Charity Shield on 12 August, in which they beat Manchester United 2–1. He scored Liverpool's second goal when they beat Bayern Munich 3–2 in the 2001 UEFA Super Cup on 24 August.
Heskey started for Liverpool in their 2–1 defeat to Arsenal in the 2002 FA Community Shield on 11 August 2002. He was linked with a £12 million move to Tottenham in December 2002, but Houllier insisted he was a part of his long-term plans and he remained at Liverpool. The same year, Heskey made a six-figure donation to aid a consortium led by Gary Lineker in their bid to buy-out his former club, Leicester City, who were experiencing financial difficulties. He started in Liverpool's 2–0 win over Manchester United in the 2003 League Cup Final on 2 March. The 2002–03 season saw him score 9 goals in 51 appearances for Liverpool and received criticism for his low goal to game ratio, with Houllier claiming that his future at the club was safe.
He picked up a hamstring injury during a match against Newcastle United in January 2004, which ruled him out of action for three weeks. In 2003–04, Heskey faced increasing competition from Milan Baroš for a place in the Liverpool starting line-up. Nevertheless, he scored 12 goals and secured a place in the England squad for UEFA Euro 2004.
At the end of 2003–04, Heskey signed for Birmingham City on 18 May 2004 on a five-year contract for an initial £3.5 million fee, which could have risen to £6.25 million, and would thus have become Birmingham's most expensive player. He suffered an ankle injury during a pre-season friendly against CA Osasuna, which put his Premier League debut against Portsmouth in doubt. He was eventually able to play against Portsmouth on 14 August, and the match ended as a 1–1 draw. His first goal came with a header in the eighth minute against Manchester City, which was enough to earn a 1–0 victory on 24 August. Despite Birmingham's mediocre 2004–05 season, Heskey was named as the club's Player's Player of the Season, Fan's Player of the Season, finished as top goalscorer with 11 goals and won most man of the match awards.
He suffered from an ankle injury against Blackburn Rovers on 19 April 2006, and after passing a late fitness test, played in a 0–0 draw against Everton on 22 April. Birmingham's 2005–06 season, during which Heskey scored only four goals in 34 league appearances, culminated in relegation to the Championship. During this season, Heskey gave inconsistent performances and received abuse from Birmingham fans. Birmingham managing director Karren Brady stated that Birmingham's relegation meant that the last £1.5 million of the maximum £6.25 million fee for signing Heskey from Liverpool would not be payable.
Heskey was signed by Premier League club Wigan Athletic on 7 July 2006 for a £5.5 million fee. He made his debut against Newcastle United on 19 August 2006, which his new team lost 2–1. On his 500th league appearance, Heskey scored his first goal for Wigan in a 1–0 Premier League victory over Reading on 26 August. He scored 8 goals in 36 appearances in 2006–07, as Wigan avoided relegation on goal difference over Sheffield United, against whom Heskey played well on 13 May 2007, in a match he nearly scored a bicycle kick.
Heskey suffered a suspected broken metatarsal in September 2007, and made his return for Wigan in a 2–0 defeat to Arsenal in November. He picked up an ankle injury during Wigan's 5–3 victory against Blackburn in December 2007. On 14 April 2008, Heskey scored a 90th minute equalising goal against Chelsea, which damaged their hopes of winning the Premier League. He went on to score Wigan's equaliser against Tottenham in the following match to give them a 1–1 draw, which proved to be his last goal of 2007–08, which he finished with 4 goals in 30 appearances.
His first goal of 2008–09 came in Wigan's fourth match, a 5–0 victory against Hull City at the KC Stadium. He hinted in October 2008 that he would be interested in leaving Wigan to play in the Champions League, although Wigan manager Steve Bruce hoped to persuade him to sign a new contract at the club. Heskey commented on reports of interest from Liverpool by saying "It would be lovely. We'll see how it goes." He scored his 100th goal in the Premier League against Portsmouth on 1 November 2008, which secured a 2–1 victory for Wigan. Dave Whelan, the Wigan chairman, hinted that Heskey could be transferred by Wigan in January 2009, as a fee would be received, whereas he would move on for free in the summer, which came after he had stalled on talks over a new contract. However, Bruce said he would only accept an offer for Heskey if it was "outrageous". He later said he was confident of keeping Heskey at the club. Heskey picked up a hamstring injury during a match against Bolton Wanderers in December 2008, which resulted in him missing an FA Cup third round tie against Tottenham. He later said he would stay at Wigan and see out his contract until the summer of 2009.
Heskey signed for Aston Villa on 23 January 2009 for a £3.5 million fee on a three-and-a-half-year contract. He made his debut four days later against Portsmouth and scored with a shot from 20 yards, the first time he had scored on a club debut. He scored one more goal before the end of the season, with the opening goal in a 1–1 draw with West Ham United. He finished 2008–09 with 14 appearances and 2 goals for Villa.
He suffered from concussion after minutes into a Peace Cup pre-season friendly game against Málaga CF in July 2009. Heskey was reported to have said he was considering leaving Villa during the January 2010 transfer window, to help ensure he would be chosen for the England team at the 2010 FIFA World Cup, to which manager Martin O'Neill responded by saying "There are players at this club with England ambitions. I wouldn't be overly concerned about all that yet." However, Heskey later denied he was seeking to leave Villa. O'Neill told him to "build up a head of steam" in February 2010, saying he was concerned that Heskey's injuries were denying him from producing his best form. He started for Villa in the 2010 League Cup Final, in which they lost 2–1 to Manchester United. Heskey finished 2009–10 with 42 appearances and 5 goals.
His first appearance of 2010–11 came after starting in a 1–1 draw at Rapid Vienna in the Europa League play-off first leg. Under Gérard Houllier, who previously managed Heskey at Liverpool, the striker enjoyed a successful start to the 2010–11 campaign including winning goals in the local derbies with Wolverhampton Wanderers and West Bromwich Albion.
On 7 May 2011, in Aston Villa's home match against Wigan, Heskey barged into referee Mike Jones and continued to argue with him because he did not award a free kick for an alleged elbow by Antolín Alcaraz. Heskey received a yellow card for his behaviour and had to be restrained by teammates such as Brad Friedel and captain Stiliyan Petrov. He played for the remainder of the half, but had to be restrained again in the tunnel at the interval. Caretaker manager Gary McAllister chose to substitute him for Marc Albrighton at half-time, and Heskey was not allowed to remain at the stadium for the rest of the match. Despite his outburst, Heskey received no punishment from either Villa or The Football Association. Teammate Luke Young later said that Heskey was "lucky he didn't get sent off".
Heskey remained with Villa for one more season, in which he scored just once, in an August 2011 win over Blackburn. He was released in May 2012 after being told he would not be offered a new contract.
Heskey signed for Australian A-League club Newcastle Jets on 21 September 2012 as their marquee player for 2012–13. He made his debut in the Jets' 2–0 home defeat to Adelaide United, in which he was substituted in the 72nd minute for James Virgili. Heskey scored his first A-League goal in a 3–2 away win against Sydney FC on 13 October 2012. In five starts, Heskey put his goal tally up to five, with his goal against Sydney FC, followed by one goal against F3 Derby rivals the Central Coast Mariners, two goals against Melbourne Victory on 26 October and one goal against the Western Sydney Wanderers, which took him to joint top scorer of the league. The match against Melbourne featured "Heskey Cam", which allowed the viewer to track Heskey's movements with one camera throughout the match. Having finished 2012–13 with 9 goals in 23 appearances and earning a nomination for the Jets' Player of the Year award, Heskey signed a new contract for 2013–14 in April 2013. After scoring once in 19 appearances in 2013–14, Heskey left the Jets to pursue a move to an English club.
After a successful trial Heskey signed for Championship club Bolton Wanderers on a short-term contract on 24 December 2014. He made his debut two days later as a half-time substitute for Robert Hall with Bolton 1–0 down at home to Blackburn, but after scoring the equalising goal in the 59th minute Bolton went on to win 2–1. His goal was set up by another 36-year-old forward who the club had signed that month, Eiður Guðjohnsen. Heskey was released by Bolton when his contract expired at the end of 2015–16. He subsequently retired from playing.
Heskey gained his first international recognition with the England national under-16 team, making his debut on 26 April 1994 as a substitute in 1–0 win over Portugal in their opening match at the 1994 UEFA European Under-16 Championship. His first start came two days later as England drew 1–1 with the Republic of Ireland. All four of Heskey's under-16 caps came at this tournament, in which England were eliminated in the quarter-final by Ukraine, losing 7–6 on penalties after a 2–2 extra-time draw.
Heskey made his debut for under-18s on 16 November 1995 when starting against Latvia in 1996 UEFA European Under-18 Championship qualification, scoring both goals in a 2–0 win in the second and 58th minutes. He played in all four matches for the team at the 1996 UEFA European Under-18 Championship, scoring in the 18th minute of the third-place match against Belgium as England won 3–2 after extra time. He finished his under-18 career with eight appearances and five goals.
Heskey went on to gain recognition with the under-21 team, making his debut after starting in a 0–0 draw with Poland on 8 October 1996; a year later on 30 May 1997, he scored against the same team in a 1–1 stalemate. Making his final appearance on 29 March 2000 in a 3–0 victory over Yugoslavia in a 2000 UEFA European Under-21 Championship qualification play-off, he finished his under-21 career with 17 caps, in which he scored six goals. He was capped once by the England B team, against Chile on 10 February 1998, scoring a 90th-minute goal in a 2–1 defeat.
Heskey was given his first call-up to the senior England team for a friendly against the Czech Republic on 18 November 1998, but did not play. He made his debut in a friendly against Hungary in Budapest in a 1–1 draw on 28 April 1999 and made his first start against Argentina at Wembley Stadium on 23 February 2000. That showing ensured he was in the England squad for UEFA Euro 2000. However, his two substitute performances in the tournament could not help England, as the team were eliminated in the group stage.
In September 2001, Heskey scored to "make it five" in England's 5–1 win away in Germany in a qualifying game for the 2002 World Cup. This was accompanied by his DJ goal celebration, a celebration he popularised. Heskey was selected in the squad for the 2002 FIFA World Cup in South Korea and Japan, and was used as a makeshift option to play in England's left-wing role in the match against Sweden, but did not perform well out of his regular position. He scored against Denmark in England's 3–0 victory, which saw England reach the quarter-finals of the tournament. He featured in the match where England were beaten 2–1 by the eventual champions Brazil.
He and teammate Ashley Cole received abuse from some Slovakia supporters when England played them in a Euro 2004 qualifier in October 2002, which led to UEFA opening an investigation into the allegations. Slovakia were eventually forced to play their next home international behind closed doors. Heskey's place in the England squad had been placed under scrutiny in 2003 with the emergence of Wayne Rooney into the England squad. However, despite being criticised for his lack of international goals, he continued to be an integral part of the international squad and took over the captaincy from Michael Owen after he was substituted when England beat Serbia and Montenegro 2–1 in his hometown of Leicester in June 2003. Heskey was named in the England squad for UEFA Euro 2004, but failed to perform well, and was the subject of much criticism. He came on as a substitute while England were leading 1–0 against France and fouled Claude Makelele on the edge of the penalty area, giving away a direct free kick from which France equalised. England eventually lost 2–1.
Heskey was recalled into the England squad for the 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Northern Ireland and Azerbaijan in 2005, after having been dropped following the match against Ukraine in August 2004. Since the emergence of Peter Crouch in the England squad, the possibility of a recall receded further.
Heskey's international appearances under manager Steve McClaren were limited, although he was recalled to the England squad in September 2007 for the UEFA Euro 2008 qualifiers as cover for the injured Rooney against Israel and Russia, on the recommendation of Michael Owen, after stating that he wanted to play alongside Heskey. He started the match against Israel and played an important role in the England attack, and by featuring he became the first England player to be capped for England whilst playing for Wigan Athletic. Heskey also started the next match against Russia, fighting off competition from Peter Crouch for a place in the team, during which he created an assist for Owen's second goal. He was widely praised for his performances in the two matches, with former England international Alan Shearer commenting, "Never in a million years did I expect to be discussing whether Emile Heskey should keep his place ahead of Wayne Rooney but the Wigan striker was outstanding over both matches."
Heskey was called into manager Fabio Capello's first squad against Switzerland, but had to withdraw due to an injury. He was called into the squad for a friendly against the Czech Republic in August 2008 and came on as a 46th-minute substitute, in a match that finished 2–2. He featured in the following 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification victories against Andorra and Croatia. Heskey was alleged to have been racially abused during the match against Croatia, with monkey chants being heard from sections of the Croatia support, after which FIFA opened an investigation, and eventually fined the Croatian Football Federation £15,000 for the incident.
He played his 50th match for England in the 2010 World Cup qualifier against Belarus on 15 October 2008, after which he was credited as helping Wayne Rooney's improved form in international matches, with the two forming an effective strike partnership and keeping Owen out of the team. He started in a friendly against Spain in February 2009, which drew an angry reaction by Villa manager Martin O'Neill, who wanted to know why Capello played Heskey after suffering from an injury. Heskey scored his first goal for England in six years against Slovakia, scoring England's first in a 4–0 victory at Wembley Stadium. He picked up a hamstring injury during this match, which forced him into withdrawing from the squad. He scored in a 4–0 victory over Kazakhstan in a 2010 World Cup qualifier in June 2009, which was his first competitive goal for England in seven years.
Heskey was named in England's preliminary 30-man squad for the 2010 World Cup on 11 May 2010 and was eventually chosen for the final 23-man squad on 1 June. Heskey injured England captain Rio Ferdinand during a training session on 4 June, which ruled Ferdinand out of the tournament. He started in England's opening match, a 1–1 draw with the United States and assisted Steven Gerrard's goal.
Heskey retired from international football on 15 July 2010, at the age of 32, having scored 7 goals in 62 appearances for England.
Heskey played as a forward, being a powerful targetman gifted with pace and physical strength; he was also a hard working player. His play has been likened to "a blunt instrument with which to bludgeon defences". His main contributions to the team lie in the way he holds the ball up and draws defenders out, leaving space behind him for another player to score. He has been credited as being an unselfish player who allows other forwards to benefit. He is not a prolific goalscorer but is able to provide a significant number of assists as a second striker. He has been quoted as saying "Forwards are judged on their goalscoring but I like to think I bring a lot more to the game and I do get pleasure from assisting". He impressed the England staff with his versatility, as he could also play down the left wing. However, he has been criticised by the media for his lack of goals; lapses in his goalscoring have been described as being "hardly uncommon". In 2008 it was stated that "It is only the perception of his talents that changes" after Heskey stated he was no better or worse than before.
Heskey was the partner of Kylee Pinsent but left her in 2004 and married Chantelle (née Tagoe) in May 2014 at Rookery Hall, Cheshire. He started seeing Tagoe secretly in 2002, who worked part-time as a waitress at a lap-dancing bar in Liverpool, while still in a relationship with Pinsent. Following the revelation of his two-year affair with Tagoe, Pinsent broke up with Heskey. He is the father of six children, three of them with former partner Pinsent and three with Tagoe. His fiancée Tagoe was held at knifepoint at their home in Hale, Greater Manchester in July 2008, while he was at a training session. The thieves burgled the house and stole Heskey's car but neither Tagoe, nor their two (at the time) children who were in the house, were hurt. Following this, he said Tagoe was "very, very distressed" by the incident. In 2009, he was rated as owning a personal fortune of £12 million. Heskey and other members of the England team supported the Shoe Aid for Africa campaign in 2009, which was aimed at helping underprivileged children in Africa.
|Club||Season||League||FA Cup||League Cup||Europe||Other||Total|
|Leicester City||1994–95||Premier League||1||0||0||0||0||0||—||—||1||0|
|Birmingham City||2004–05||Premier League||34||10||2||1||2||0||—||—||38||11|
|Wigan Athletic||2006–07||Premier League||34||8||1||0||1||0||—||—||36||8|
|Aston Villa||2008–09||Premier League||14||2||0||0||—||0||0||—||14||2|
|1||3 June 2000||National Stadium, Ta' Qali, Malta||7||Malta||2–1||2–1||Friendly|||
|2||28 February 2001||Villa Park, Birmingham, England||12||Spain||2–0||3–0||Friendly|||
|3||1 September 2001||Olympiastadion, Munich, Germany||17||Germany||5–1||5–1||2002 FIFA World Cup qualification|||
|4||15 June 2002||Niigata Stadium, Niigata, Japan||28||Denmark||3–0||3–0||2002 FIFA World Cup|||
|5||22 May 2003||Kings Park Stadium, Durban, South Africa||33||South Africa||2–1||2–1||Friendly|||
|6||28 March 2009||Wembley Stadium, London, England||52||Slovakia||1–0||4–0||Friendly|||
|7||6 June 2009||Almaty Central Stadium, Almaty, Kazakhstan||53||Kazakhstan||2–0||4–0||2010 FIFA World Cup qualification|||
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