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Emile William Ivanhoe Heskey (born 11 January 1978) is an English footballer who plays for Premier League team Aston Villa as a striker. He has also played as a left winger.

Born in Leicestermarker, Heskey started his career with Leicester City in 1994. 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, Wigan Athletic in 2006 and to current club Aston Villa in 2009.

Heskey is an England international, of Antiguanmarker descent. He made his international debut against Hungary in a 1–1 draw in 1999 and has gone on to attain over 50 caps and score seven goals for the team. 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.

Club career

Leicester City

Heskey was born in Leicestermarker, Leicestershiremarker to a family of Antiguanmarker descent, and his father, Tyrone Heskey, ran the security of nightclubs in Leicester. He was a keen footballer in his childhood and began playing 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 signed a professional contract and made his debut shortly after in an FA Premier League match against Queens Park Rangers on 8 March 1995 at the age of 17. He then became a first team regular in the 1995–96 season, making 30 appearances for the club, helping them earn promotion 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.

Liverpool

Heskey joined Liverpool in 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 pacy 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. During the 2000–01 season Heskey put an end to worries over his goalscoring ability by scoring 23 goals for Liverpool. He featured in the FA Cup Final on 12 May 2001, starting ahead of Robbie Fowler, which Liverpool won 2–1 against Arsenal. 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 Hotspur 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 Portugalmarker.

Birmingham City

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 make 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 Roversmarker 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.

Wigan Athletic

Heskey playing for Wigan Athletic in 2008
Heskey was signed by Wigan Athletic for £5.5m during 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, where he nearly scored a bicycle kick. He suffered a suspected broken metatarsal in September, 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 Roversmarker in December. 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 28 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 Stadiummarker. He hinted in October 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. 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, 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, Steve 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, which resulted in him missing an FA Cup third round tie against Tottenham Hotspur. He later said he would stay at Wigan and see out his contract until the summer of 2009.

Aston Villa

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. 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 and went on to rescue a point for Villa away at Burnley on 21 November 2009 by scoring in the 86th minute in a 1-1 draw.

International career

Heskey played for the England national under-16 football team in the 1994 UEFA European Under-16 Football Championships in Dublinmarker. He then played alongside Michael Owen in the England 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 England under-21 team, making his debut after starting in a 0–0 draw with Poland on 8 October 1996. He gained a total of 16 caps with the under-21 team, in which he scored six goals. He was capped once by the England B team, against Chile in February 1998, in which he scored a 90th minute goal in a 2–1 defeat.
Heskey playing for England against the Czech Republic in 2008
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 Budapestmarker in a 1–1 draw on 28 April 1999 and made his first start against Argentina at Wembley Stadiummarker 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. Heskey was selected in the squad for the 2002 World Cup in South Koreamarker and Japan, and was used as a make-shift 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 investigaton 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 gave away a direct free kick, from which France equalised and England eventually lost 2–1. Heskey was recalled into the England squad for the 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.

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. 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."

He 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 FIFAmarker 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 Stadiummarker. 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, which was his first competitive goal for England in seven years.

Style of play

Heskey plays as a forward with pace, and a powerful targetman with physical strength who is hard working. He impressed the England staff with his versatility, as he can also play down the left wing. 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. However, he has been criticised by the media for his lack of goals; lapses in his goalscoring have been described as being "hardly uncommon". While at Leicester, Heskey was given the nickname "Bruno", due to his likeness of heavyweight boxer Frank Bruno.

Personal life

Heskey was the partner of Kylee Pinsent but he left her in 2004 and is now engaged to Chantelle Tagoe. Heskey is the father of five children, three of them with former partner Pinsent and two with Tagoe. In 2009, he was rated as owning a personal fortune of £12 million. His fiancée Tagoe was held at knifepoint at their home in Halemarker, Greater Manchestermarker 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.

Honours

Leicester City
Liverpool


Career statistics

Club

As of 5 October 2009.


476||110||33||7||47||9||47||12||603||138
476||110||33||7||47||9||47||12||603||138


International

As of 10 October 2009.




International goals

As of 6 June 2009.


References



External links



1994–95 Leicester City FA Premier League 1 0 0 0 0 0 - 1 0
1995–96 First Division 33 7 0 0 2 0 - 35 7
1996–97 FA Premier League 35 10 3 0 9 2 - 47 12
1997–98 35 10 2 0 0 0 2 0 39 10
1998–99 30 6 2 0 8 3 - 40 9
1999–2000 23 7 4 0 8 1 - 35 8
1999–2000 Liverpool 12 3 0 0 0 0 - 12 3
2000–01 36 14 5 5 4 0 10 3 55 22
2001–02 35 9 2 0 1 0 16 4 54 13
2002–03 32 6 3 0 5 0 11 3 51 9
2003–04 35 7 4 1 2 2 6 2 47 12
2004–05 Birmingham City 34 10 2 1 2 0 - 38 11
2005–06 34 4 3 0 3 1 - 40 5
2006–07 Wigan Athletic 34 8 1 0 1 0 - 36 8
2007–08 28 4 2 0 0 0 - 30 4
2008–09 20 3 0 0 2 0 - 22 3
2008–09 Aston Villa 14 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 14 2
2009–10 11 1 0 0 2 1 2 0 15 2
National team Season Apps Goals
England
1998–99 2 0
1999–2000 7 1
2000–01 7 1
2001–02 13 2
2002–03 5 1
2003–04 9 0
2007–08 2 0
2008–09 8 2
2009–10 4 0
Total 57 7
# Date Location Opponent Score Result Competition
1. 3 June 2000 Ta' Qali, Maltamarker 2–1 Win Friendly
2. 28 February 2001 Birminghammarker, England 3–0 Win Friendly
3. 1 September 2001 Munichmarker, Germanymarker 5–1 Win FIFA World Cup 2002 qualification
4. 15 June 2002 Niigata, Japanmarker 3–0 Win 2002 FIFA World Cup
5. 22 May 2003 Durbanmarker, South Africa 2–1 Win Friendly
6. 28 March 2009 Londonmarker, England 4–0 Win Friendly
7. 6 June 2009 Almatymarker, Kazakhstanmarker 4–0 Win 2010 FIFA World Cup qualification

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