|Desc||A hero to the fans, a joke to others; it is hard to imagine why then-manager Houllier chose to fork out £11 million for Emile Heskey way back in 2000. Sure, one might argue that his total goal return of 60 goals in 223 games is decent. But, many of those goals were down to the abilities of his strike partner Owen rather than his own brilliance. His best season came in the 2000-01 Treble season (FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Cup) where he chipped in with 22 goals. The England national target man signed for Birmingham City in 2004|
|Org||England National Team|
|Club as Player||Birmingham City|
2015 02 18 Retrieve
[Emile Heskey describe Walter Samuel] Internationally, it was Walter Samuel who was my toughest opponent. He was big, strong and quick. A real tough competitor
2019 11 04 Retrieve
[Emile Heskey says Jadon Sancho would be a welcome addition at Liverpool] Jadon Sancho would be a good fit for any of the top two or three clubs, to be honest with you. What he brings to the team, I think he would be fantastic for anyone in the Premier League, or in the world, he’s that good. His goals, assists, penetrating runs, frightening defences. He’d be good for anyone
2019 11 16 Retrieve
[Emile Heskey says Timo Werner would embrace the challenge of competing with Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane for regular minutes at Liverpool] You always want to challenge yourself, regardless of who else is there. When I came to Liverpool, Robbie Fowler and Michael [Owen] were there. Players like that. I think Titi Camara was there too and he had a good start to the season. [Could Werner join Liverpool?] I don’t see why not
I think it’s all on the up. Yes, you’ll have blips but when you look at the mentality of the players and the mentality of the club itself, it’s all on the up. It’s all looking positive to be honest
2019 12 26 Retrieve
[Can Liverpool end the Premier League title race at Leicester?] Not quite! It won’t be finished if Liverpool win, but they look so strong right now. They are so consistent, so mentally tough. They handle everything that comes their way. They’re going to take some stopping
[On Saturday, they became world champions for the first time in their history, beating Flamengo in Doha to lift the FIFA Club World Cup] They just find a way, don’t they? They’re not always great, performance-wise, but they have such belief in themselves that they never feel like it isn’t their day. And that’s a massive quality for a team to have
[Brendan Rodgers’ side may have been beaten at Manchester City last time out] He’s in the form of his life. You look at strikers when they get to 30, and the expectation is that they start to slow down and adjust their game, but he seems to be getting quicker! He’s been fantastic. I think Brendan has been good for him, and he’s helped unlock another level for him. He knows what’s expected of him, and he knows how to affect games. It doesn’t matter who he’s up against, he backs himself
[As for Heskey, he’ll be watching the game from Stockley Park, where he will be part of the Premier League’s official match coverage] I can’t wait, to be honest. It’s two good teams, two teams who will back themselves, and the atmosphere at the King Power will be great. It’s what Christmas is all about, isn’t it?
2020 02 29 Retrieve
[Emile Heskey says Jack Grealish departure now a case of when, not if] Oh yeah. When I was at Villa he was actually a young 15-year-old kid who would come and train with us every now and again and he used to do the same then when he was 15 as what he’s doing now. So you knew he’s got something special. I think Man U were looking at him then but he’s a Villa fan and wants to do well for Villa and definitely got what it takes to play at the top four clubs. To be honest, it’s a matter of when, not if he’s going to leave
2020 03 02 Retrieve
[Emile Heskey says Liverpool have looked like Manchester United teams of old this season] You earn your own luck. When you are looking at the likes of Man United, when they were winning, they weren’t just running over teams, there were games where they were very lucky and won narrowly. And that is the sign of champions. A lot of games that they are winning by one goal and you are thinking, ‘Oh that was lucky’, two seasons ago they would have lost. But now they are winning and that is why they will be champions. I would love to play in this side, I don’t know if I would get in, I would love to play in it and love to play under a manager who is getting the best out of his team. He is encouraging his team and it is more like a family than a football team and that is what I like
It will be amazing for the fans, not just in England but all around the world. They are sitting in front of their tellies just waiting for that moment. I have got friends in Lebanon, in Africa and in Asia and they are texting me non-stop because they just can’t wait to call up a Man United fan! They have had to wait a long time and they are great fans, they have stuck with them through thick and thin and they deserve it
2020 03 26 Retrieve
[Heskey urges Klopp to look at Werner and Havertz instead] Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is a wonderful goal-getter. His stats are amazing. He is showing time and time again that he is a goal scorer. He’s playing in an Arsenal side that isn’t really fancied in and around the league but he’s going out and scoring week in and week out. He’s challenging for the Golden Boot. He’s Mr Consistent. But, will he fit in the Liverpool system? Probably not. I don’t think that he would be an ideal fit for Liverpool
Kai Havertz is a young, dynamic player. So, adding that to the current Liverpool side is always good. You always need options. When you have a young, hungry lad come in, it puts pressure on the more senior players to go out there and perform. Timo Werner is another young player who has done phenomenally well. When you’re bringing in young players, you want ones that are tried and tested, who knows what it takes to perform at the top level. Those players are always going to be an asset. Werner looks phenomenal – his pace looks great. Klopp obviously knows a lot about the German league as well, so I’m sure he’ll be keen to get his teeth stuck into him
2020 03 26b Retrieve
[Heskey expects Liverpool boss to shun interest] There is always an option that Klopp could leave to join a club like Real Madrid or Barcelona. But I don’t think that Klopp is finished with the project that he has started at Liverpool. They are moving into a new training facility, they are really getting to where they feel that they can be when it comes to being recognised as an international brand as a football club. Klopp has really put them on the map there. I think Klopp still feels like he has a lot to do. So, I don’t think the fans will be overly worried about Klopp leaving
Liverpool don’t generally re-sign players – Robbie Fowler and Ian Rush were the exceptions. No disrespect to Coutinho as he is a fabulous player but where would he fit in the side right now? The side is looking so good at this moment in time that you can’t see him fitting in unless you change the formation. He could then possibly get in the side but Liverpool don’t necessarily need him right now
2020 03 26c Retrieve
[Emile Heskey says Sancho can give Liverpool more longevity] When you look at Jadon Sancho’s age, he will always be an asset to Liverpool. In two to three years, you’ve got an ageing Liverpool side - even though in this day and age and with the fitness levels of all the players, age is nothing. But having someone young, fresh and dynamic coming in, it will only add to the squad and I think that is where Jurgen is going to be looking at next. What can he add to the squad that is going to give Liverpool that little bit more longevity
When you look at the Liverpool frontline, you’ve got Mane and Salah as the goal-getters and that is exactly what they do well. They command respect from defenders as a result. You’d like to think that Sancho has the quality to get in the side, but it will be very tough to get in ahead of Salah or Mane
2020 03 26d Retrieve
[Former Aston Villa striker Emile Heskey believes that Jack Grealish would do well at Manchester United] There is every chance that Jack Grealish will join Man Utd in the summer. I don’t think that Jack will be at Villa come the end of the season. I played with him when I was at Villa, he was only a young lad, he used to come and train with us – he was a phenomenal player even then and he has gone from strength to strength. He’s taken everything on his shoulders at a young age. He’s a very young captain but has been very positive with it. He’s stayed at Villa a lot longer than a lot of people would have thought he would, so full credit to him. Villa will now get a decent fee for him and he’ll go on and make a stellar career
I think [he] would do well at Man Utd. He’s a commanding midfielder and the kind that they’ve missed recently. They have it now in [Bruno] Fernandes but having another one alongside him who could drive from the midfield – that’s Jack all over. But Jack can play in several different positions. He would do very well at Man Utd.
Jack is up there on the list of Aston Villa’s greatest players. He’s a local lad that has come through to captain his club at a very young age. He brought them up in to the Premier League and has been the mainstay, he hasn’t left when he could have, and be a commanding figure throughout – he’s got to be up there with the best of them
2020 04 09 Retrieve
[Everything gels for Liverpool when Firmino plays] I just think everything gels properly when he’s playing. He’s not necessarily worried about ‘this is my job and I need to do this’.
You see him chasing back and tackling, you see him playing left wing and chase the guy up and down the wing. Then you’ll see him up front, getting the ball and holding it up and bringing someone in. It’s just a different variety of stuff that he does, he’s not just focused on ‘I must score goals’.
I’m a forward, so I look at the runs he’s making, the space he’s creating. He seems to get space where nobody gets space. He creates his space, his first touch is brilliant because he takes it away from players, so he can have time to look around and assess what he’s got to do next. He’s great at that.
[Heskey was not as widely heralded back in his day as Firmino is in the present, but believes he actually had it easier as his outings for Liverpool and England often saw him paired alongside the likes of Michael Owen and] It was easier for us because we played with two strikers. As long as one of you were scoring, the other one could do all the other work
2020 04 22 Retrieve
[Heskey on England’s golden generation, Liverpool and being underappreciated] I always preferred athletics to football. When I was younger, that was what I cared about. Football was secondary. Football gradually took over. Athletics is more seasonal, isn’t it? With football, I could play all day, every day. It was easier to go down that path
[He is remembered as a selfless player] It was natural. I played with Michael with the England Under-18 team, and we just struck up an understanding. We’d never met before, never played with each other before, but we clicked on the pitch. I understood what he wanted, he knew what I would do. It was the perfect match
[He had learned his trade at Leicester] Those Fridays at Leicester, oh mate! We’d play young versus old every week, and it was the most competitive game you could ever imagine! They’d have Matt Elliott, Steve Walsh, Gerry Taggart, big, tough, old-school defenders, and all they do is throw them all up front and then launch the ball into the box! So I’m 18 or 19, and we’ve got to try and defend against these big monsters coming at you. They’d batter us from pillar to post. We used to have the yellow jersey which was given to the worst player in training, the lads would vote for it. You didn’t want that yellow jersey! It got so competitive, trust me. You’d be pumped going into training because you knew it was on. It taught me a lot.
Gerard wanted us to know football inside and out. Martin would make us focus on ourselves, and on our strengths, but Houllier was different. We’d do whole training sessions at Liverpool where we wouldn’t even see a football! We’d do shadow play, where to be on the pitch when the ball is in a certain area, where to move, all that. Then we’d go inside and spend 45 minutes or an hour going through video analysis! It was a rude awakening when I first got there, but looking back it made such a difference to me as a player
It was amazing, the run we went on. I just remember playing every three days, and every game was massive. It’d be hotel, travel, play, go home and pack, travel again, play again. People talk to me about the Alaves game [the UEFA Cup final, which Liverpool won 5-4 after extra-time] but I always tell them I can’t remember it! I was so tired, I was running on adrenaline by that point!
[Heskey has fond memories of his time at Anfield] Paddy and Vladi, the Czech boys! They were an absolute joke, I swear. You couldn’t put those two on the same side in training. Nobody could get near them
[He recalls Liverpool’s famous victory over Everton at Goodison Park on Easter Monday, 2001, when McAllister’s stoppage-time free kick secured a 3-2 win] Only Gary Mac could have done that. When he first kicked it we were all thinking ‘what are you doing?!’ Everybody was at the far post waiting for it to be hung up, and instead he whips it in near post. Ridiculous. I’ll never forget the emotions from that day
The bottom line is we weren’t quite as good as Arsenal and Manchester United. We didn’t have that consistency when it really mattered. We’d beat those teams on our day, but we’d go and lose against a side we should have beaten the next week. You can’t win leagues that way
[Heskey’s departure was a swift one. He was informed by Liverpool that Djibril Cisse was arriving from Auxerre, and that opportunities would be limited] What do you do? Sit and do nothing or carry on with your career? I chose to move on, but when I look back I think I would have played games if I had stayed. Cisse got a bad injury and there weren’t many other strikers there at the time. They won the Champions League at the end of that season
[At Birmingham, he admits it took him time to adapt] I went from playing with Michael, Stevie G, Gary Mac. All I had to do was make a run! Then I’m at Birmingham, and no disrespect to the players there but I was making runs and nobody was even looking at me. It was a totally different calibre of player. Mentally that was tough at first, but I got my head around it. You learn to play in a different way, you work hard and find a way to fit in with the team
[Ask him why England failed to win a major trophy] Everyone talks about the golden generation, but look at France. That was the real golden generation wasn’t it? Even if you just look at my age group; we had me, Carra [Jamie Carragher], Rio, Lamps, Jody Morris. They had [Nicolas] Anelka, [David] Trezeguet, [Thierry] Henry, [Ousmane] Dabo, [William] Gallas, [Mikael] Silvestre, [Willy] Sagnol. And that was just from one group! Then add in [Zinedine] Zidane and [Marcel] Desailly and [Robert] Pires and the rest and tell me who has the golden era?! The 2002 World Cup was the one I look back and think we had a chance. When we went 1-0 up against Brazil in the quarter-final I thought we were in business. But it wasn’t to be. We lost 2-1, but we had a chance there
[asks if he feels he was underappreciated during his playing career] By who? Not by my team-mates or my managers, and not by the fans of the clubs I played for. If I go back to Liverpool, the fans are always amazing with me. That’s what matters to me. The rest, who cares? I enjoyed every minute of my career.
2020 05 05 Retrieve
[Former England striker Emile Heskey says Leicester City star James Maddison has no need to join Manchester United any time soon] Maddison has to look at himself and found out where his pathway lies. He is still a young lad with many years ahead of him and a lot of learning still to do. He has a great teacher in Brendan Rodgers. But at some stage he will be wondering what his next path will be. That he has taken it so far at Leicester and now what is the next path. So at some stage he will be looking to move to a bigger club. Right now though I don’t see why he can’t stay for another two or three years. That will still only take him to 25
[Heskey doesn’t think that Grealish necessarily needs to leave his current side] I don’t think Grealish needs to move but I think he wants to. He is going away with the England team and holding his own but he will still want to prove something, to know that he can do it week in, week out. Not just in a 10-day spell with the Under-21s or training with the England full team, but week in, week out, and I know that he can. I played with him when I was at Villa and he was just 15 and he could hold himself then. With England he will have spoken to people and they will have told him what it’s like at the bigger clubs, 100 per cent
2020 05 11 Retrieve
[Emile Heskey claims Liverpool have overtaken Man City as dominant force] Liverpool have slowly got to the point where they are now kind of the dominant force. They are the standard bearers now. It was Manchester City for a while, but now Liverpool have taken on that mantle. But with their forward line getting a year older, can they carry on doing it at that level? That’s the question. And then your recruitment has to be special too. You have to bring in players who are really going to make a difference when they come into the side, players who can hit the ground running. Manchester City have got it right in that sense, but Liverpool are slowly doing that too
If you look at some of the youth players they have got, it’s their time to shine. They have seen it with Trent, who is basically the blueprint for that. I don’t see why the others can’t. The squad is probably missing one or two players, but overall it is pretty much set. Age-wise they are not too bad for the next year or so. But you’d want to bring in a couple of younger players to freshen it up and to give some of the established players a challenge
2020 05 22 Retrieve
[Emile Heskey says Liverpool should prioritise signing Jadon Sancho over Kylian Mbappe and Erling Haaland] I’d choose Sancho for Liverpool, out of the three. Mbappe is a phenomenal player who is another player who keeps on rising and is only going to get better and better. He’s focused more to keep the consistency going at that age is just phenomenal. It’s difficult, because for Liverpool you’d choose a player who was more on the wing than central. But again, Haaland’s goals are a key factor. I’m going to patriotic and say that Sancho would be great, being an England player and an entertaining player as well. I would say someone like that would be great to get on the wing and terrorise defences
2020 06 02 Retrieve
[Emile Heskey says Sancho was right to use platform to stand up to racism] Sports have a platform that is viewed by billions of people so it definitely has a say on what people think and how you put things out there. It’s very important that if they have a view on it, then why not? You look at Jadon Sancho who got booked for it as well. He felt it was right for him to put it out there because this is something that sits very close to his heart. He’s a young black footballer who grew up in London. These are the certain things that he could have come up against growing up. I think football, sports in general, it has a platform so why not? I don’t think they’re doing anything wrong with supporting what’s going on. He’s not condoning violence or anything like that, so I think it’s great
I think until we in society get things right, football isn’t going to change because it’s just a mirror image of society. It’s a lot better in a sense [that] what I had, you could be walking down the street, not bothering anyone and you could be racially abused. I don’t think it’s as bad as it was back then, but we’re seeing it again online, people doing certain things, not just racism, sexism as well. These are things [that] have been going on for years. Will they get better? We hope. We can only pray that it will get better. It’s not just a football problem or sport problem. This is a societal problem. We’ve got to attack it there and hope that it gets better and spreads everywhere else. At the end of the day the peaceful protests in and around London, Manchester as well, were great. It’s highlighting the issues. I don’t think they’re just protesting to protest, they’re highlighting issues. So let’s address those issues, let’s talk about them. Let’s deal with them because it’s happening time and time again. That’s all they want, they’re not asking for anything else. Let’s just deal with this first, let’s stop it happening.
2020 06 14 Retrieve
[Emile Heskey says the current generation of young players, like Raheem Sterling, are breaking down barriers that currently exist for black footballers] The younger generation are not letting up. ey are going to keep going at it and keep breaking down barriers. It will see change because people are demanding it. The new generation is saying ‘can we afford to lose another 20 years and not move forward? Raheem wants to get to 38 and know that he has an opportunity if he wants to take it. We got to 38 and were told ‘go and do your badges’. For what?
You are talking about equality and there’s currently a glass ceiling for black players. That is where clubs need to say this is what we are putting in place, this is what we can do. We have got to drive change and that starts from within. You can go up and down any boardroom and look. It is very hard to see many black people in any of them. It is about control. We don’t have anyone in there so we cannot affect that. You can’t challenge that if there is no one in there
2020 06 25 Retrieve
[Coutinho’s a wizard and Liverpool fans would love him back] What he did when he was with the Reds was phenomenal. He’s a phenomenal player and everything good Liverpool did at that time went through him. So I think he would be welcomed back with open arms at Liverpool and the fans would absolutely love to have him back - but are you getting that same player back? Generally you don’t but ask any Liverpool fan, they would love to have Coutinho back and that wizard playing in the midfield there
When you look at Philippe Coutinho, a lot of the good stuff went through him. He was the main player at Liverpool and he felt that way. When he went to Barcelona where you have Lionel Messi in the side and then you become a secondary or sometimes third or fourth in line then it can dent your confidence a bit, especially when you’ve come from a team where the focus is all on you. You’ve got to adapt your game and sometimes players can’t adapt that and then going to Bayern, it could possibly be the same. They’ve got players in there that are established and know what they want to do and he’s got to fit into that and sometimes that’s hard