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Emile Heskey. Emile William Ivanhoe Heskey. Born in Leicester, Heskey is a professional footballer that played for Leicester City, Liverpool, Birmingham City, Wigan Athletic, Aston Villa, and currently plays for the Newcastle Jets, in Australia.
He made 696 appearances in English football, scoring 151 goals in a span of 18 years. He also played regularly for the English national team, winning a total of 62 caps and scoring 7 goals.
Heskey may have received his dubiously fair amount of critics over the years (even comedian Michael McIntyre had a go at Emile and the England team during one of his shows), but the fact remains that Heskey has to be considered one of the most successful English strikers of the past decade.
Emile Heskey started off his playing career at Leicester City, his hometown club, making his first appearance against QPR in the month of March, 1995. However, Heskey had already been submitted to criticism early on; after only scoring 6 goals in 98-99 season (4 less than last seasons total) he was condemned for a low scoring ratio.
This didn’t discourage certain key people, such as Michael Owen, and the England U-21 manager, Peter Taylor, who saw Heskey for the talent he could be.
Heskey joined Liverpool in 2000 for 11 million pounds, a Liverpool transfer record at the time. The 22 year old didn’t take long to settle in, and scored 3 goals in 12 appearances during his first season with the Reds. Heskey played his best football at Liverpool, complimenting Owen and Fowler superbly, and was an integral part of Houllier’s team.
During the 2000-2001 season, Heskey had arguably his greatest season of his professional career, notching 22 goals, as the Merseyside club secured the FA Cup, the League Cup, the UEFA Cup (now the Europa League) and the UEFA Super Cup (in which he scored in a 3-2 win against Champions League winners Bayern Munich).
Despite the fantastic season, it was only really downhill from then on for Heskey, who, at the end of the 2003-2004 season, departed for Birmingham City.
Heskey signed a 5-year contract worth around 4 million pounds with Birmingham City for the 2004-2005 season, but failed to make the impact that he was once penned to make. Despite a good first season, winning both the fans and players player award, his second season at St. Andrew’s was poor, scoring only 4 times as Blues were relegated, and Heskey moved on.
He went back to the Premier League with Wigan Athletic, who paid 5.5 million for the 28-year old. He stayed at the club for 2 and a half years, years which were unfortunately plagued by injury and rumors of a transfer back to Liverpool to play Champions League football, rumors which turned out to be false, as in the January window of 2009, Heskey signed for former team Birmingham’s rivals, Aston Villa.
Heskey’s career never really picked up after Liverpool, and he will continue his football at Newcastle Jets, in Australia.
Heskey, while never praised as much as he should’ve been, was never undaunted, and kept playing his football; something many footballers should think about doing today.
In a world where big-scoring strikers and fast wingers make the headlines, Heskey remained a solid and stoic reminder that the under-thanked are sometimes the one that should be idolized.
Thanks Heskey, and good luck in Australia.
Written by Cormac O’Brien
Follow him on Twitter @obrienfootball
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