January 11th is the 40th birthday of a footballing cult hero; former England striker, Emile Heskey.
During a career which spanned both sides of the millennium, Heskey went from playing for his local side Leicester City to a record-breaking move to Liverpool FC and several other top division sides, playing in two World Cups and scoring over 100 goals in the PL. Yet, for one reason or another, there were spells during his lengthy career when Heskey did not get the love from the press and from fans.
His ability was often questioned by those outside of his club, yet very few teammates have ever said anything but positives about the man and the footballer. At times, he almost became a figure of comedy, illustrating the intensity and unpredictability of the professional football spotlight.
The reality though is that Heskey was intelligent, fast, strong and unselfish. Emile was the sort of player that people want in their team. He was pivotal in the career of Michael Owen, his strike partner for five years at club and country, assisting many of the forward’s goals as he went on to win a Ballon d’Or. As he turns 40, we want to shed light on some of his greatest moments.
Here are his top three goals;
COULD IT BE FIVE?
It’s 2001 and England are playing away to Germany, their biggest rivals in a must-win qualification game. After going a goal down inside six minutes, England responded with an inspired performance. Michael Owen grabbed a famous hat-trick with one goal assisted by Heskey, whilst Steven Gerrard was the man who turned the tie to 2-1 on the brink of half time.
However, etched into English football history forever is Heskey’s goal. Aided by famous commentary from John Motson, Emile was put through on goal to the sound of ‘could it be FIVE?’
It would be five a Heskey rolled the ball past Oliver Kahn to complete a famous annihilation of Germany by England. 5-1.
BOLT FROM THE BLUE
After leaving Liverpool in 2004, Emile Heskey moved to Birmingham City. On less of a stage as our first entry, Emile provides one of the goals of his career – but this is the type of goal that will pop up every now and then in his 110 Premier League strikes.
Receiving the ball with his back to goal, Heskey does what he does best; linking up with his strike partner and creating a chance. A one-two sees him enter the box and then with his ‘weaker’ left foot, the England striker smashes it into the top of the corner at Fulham’s Craven Cottage.
LOB FOR LIVERPOOL
It was in red where Emile spent his best years, scoring the majority of his goals on Merseyside. In the 2000/01 season where he helped Liverpool to win a League Cup, FA Cup and UEFA Cup, Heskey made his best goal tally with many of them special strikes like this.
Coming at the peak of his form in that campaign, as the commentary suggests ‘Heskey can’t stop scoring’ – and he finishes this half-chance on the edge of the box like a man with supreme confidence. The ball drops to him and Emile, often regarded as a powerful finisher, delicately lofts the ball over a stranded ‘keeper.
A fine finish from one of football’s most underrated players.