Heskey playing for England in a 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifier against Ukraine 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 and correct as of 14:10, 4 May 2015 (UTC).
† Appearances (Goals).
Emile William Ivanhoe Heskey (born 11 January 1978) is an English professional footballer who plays for Bolton Wanderers as a striker. Before joining the club, 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 for Australian A-League side 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 FA 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 Australian A-League side Newcastle Jets.
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 seven goals for his country.
- 1 Club career
- 2 International career
- 3 Style of play
- 4 Personal life
- 5 Career statistics
- 6 Honours
- 7 References
- 8 External links
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 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 he 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 an FA 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 the 1995–96 season, making 30 appearances for the club, helping them earn promotion back to the FA Premier League. During this season, Heskey scored his first goal as a professional footballer, which came in a 1–0 victory over Norwich City, in a season he managed to score seven goals.
During the 1996–97 season, his first in the Premier League, Heskey scored 10 goals in 35 appearances, and also scored the equaliser in the 1997 League Cup Final against Middlesbrough, which Leicester won in a replay. The following season, 1997–98, saw interest from Leeds United and Tottenham Hotspur for Heskey, as he again managed to score 10 Premier League goals, which made him Leicester's top scorer that season. However, the 1998–99 season 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. He went on to win the League Cup again in 2000 with a 2–1 win against Tranmere Rovers in the Final.
Heskey joined Liverpool on 10 March 2000 in a long-anticipated £11 million move, which, at the time, set the record transfer fee for 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 FA 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 the 1999–2000 season with 12 appearances and three goals for Liverpool. He featured in the 2001 FA Cup Final on 12 May 2001, starting ahead of Fowler, which Liverpool won 2–1 against Arsenal. During the 2000–01 season Heskey scored 22 goals for Liverpool as the club won the FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Cup treble. He also scored Liverpool's second goal when they beat Bayern Munich 3–2 in the 2001 UEFA Super Cup.
Heskey 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. The 2002–03 season saw him score nine 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 the 2003–04 season 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 the UEFA Euro 2004 tournament in Portugal.
At the end of the 2003–04 season, Heskey signed for Birmingham City on a five-year contract for an initial fee of £3.5 million, which could have risen to £6.25 million, and would thus have become Birmingham's most expensive player. He suffered from 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 Wigan Athletic for a fee of £5.5 million on 7 July 2006. He made his debut for Wigan against Newcastle United on 19 August 2006, which his new club 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 eight goals in 36 appearances during the 2006–07 season, as Wigan avoided relegation on goal difference over Sheffield United, against whom Heskey played well for Wigan on 13 May 2007, in a game he nearly scored a bicycle kick. He 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 game to give them a 1–1 draw, which proved to be his last goal of the 2007–08 season, which he finished with four goals in 30 appearances.
His first goal of the 2008–09 season came in Wigan's fourth game, 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, with former club Liverpool believed to be interested in signing him in the January transfer window. However, 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 for a fee of £3.5 million on a three-and-a-half-year contract on 23 January 2009. He made his debut against Portsmouth on 27 January 2009 and scored in this game with a strike from 20 yards; the first time he has scored on his debut for any club for which he has played. 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 the season with 14 appearances and two 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. Heskey finished the 2009–10 season with 42 appearances and five goals.
His first appearance of the 2010–11 season 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 game 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 team-mates 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 game. 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 at Villa Park for one more year, during which he scored just once, in an August 2011 win over Blackburn, before he was released in May 2012 after being told he would not be offered a new contract.
Heskey signed for Australian A-League side Newcastle Jets on 21 September 2012 as their marquee player for the 2012–13 season. 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 the 2012–13 season with nine goals in 23 appearances and earning a nomination for the Jets' Player of the Year award, Heskey signed a new contract for the 2013–14 season in April 2013. After scoring once in 19 appearances in the 2013–14 season, 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 the match 2–1. His goal was set up by another 36-year-old forward who the club had resigned that month, Eiður Guðjohnsen who had played for them 14 years earlier.
Heskey gained his first international recognition after playing for the England under-16 team, making four appearances and appearing at the 1994 UEFA European Under-16 Football Championship. He played alongside Michael Owen in the under-18 team which finished third in the European Championships in France, and made eight appearances and scored five goals for the team. 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 side in a 1–1 stalemate. After making his final appearance in a 3–0 victory over Yugoslavia in a 2000 UEFA European Under-21 Football Championship qualification play-off on 29 March 2000, 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, in which he scored 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 the UEFA Euro 2000 tournament. However, his two substitute performances in the tournament could not help England, as the team were eliminated in the group stage.
2002 FIFA World Cup
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 game 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 this game, 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 friendly 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.
UEFA Euro 2004
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 Makélélé on the edge of the penalty area, giving away a direct free kick from which France equalised. England eventually lost 2–1.
2006 FIFA World Cup qualification
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 game against Ukraine in August 2004. Since the emergence of Peter Crouch in the England squad, the possibility of a recall receded further.
UEFA Euro 2008 qualification
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 game 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 games."
2010 FIFA World Cup qualification
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 game 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 side. 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 game, 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.
2010 FIFA World Cup
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 game, 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 seven goals in 62 appearances for England.
Style of play
Heskey plays as a forward with pace, being a powerful targetman with physical strength and is hard working. 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. 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 can 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 he left her in 2004 and is now engaged to Chantelle Tagoe. 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 five children, three of them with former partner Pinsent and two 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 BMW but neither Tagoe, nor their two 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.
- As of match played 2 May 2015.
|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|
- Appearances in First Division play-offs
- Appearances in UEFA Cup
- 16 appearances and four goals in UEFA Champions League, one appearance and one goal in UEFA Super Cup
- Appearance in FA Charity Shield
- Six appearances and two goals in UEFA Champions League, five appearances and one goal in UEFA Cup
- Appearances in UEFA Europa League
- FA Cup: 2000–01
- Football League Cup: 2000–01, 2002–03
- FA Charity Shield: 2001
- UEFA Cup: 2000–01
- UEFA Super Cup: 2001
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