Emile Heskey is an English former professional footballer who played for a number of teams throughout his two decades long career, including for Leicester City, Liverpool, and the English national team. During the latter half of his professional career, he also played for the Australian A-League club Newcastle Jets. He played as a striker and became known as a powerful target-man for his pace and physical strength. He played 62 matches for the English national football team and has appeared in more than 500 matches in the Football League and Premier League. He scored a total of 130 goals during his club career and 7 goals for the national team. While he has scored a number of goals consistently throughout his career, he is better recognized for his unselfish play style and for assisting his teammates score goals. His partnership with Liverpool and England teammate, Michael Owen, helped both teams win crucial matches with clear dominance over the opponent team. He could also play down the left wing, which made him more versatile on the field. He, along with his England teammates, supported underprivileged children in Africa via the Shoe Aid for Africa campaign.
Childhood & Early Life
Emile William Ivanhoe Heskey was born on January 11, 1978 in Leicester, Leicestershire, into a family of Antiguan descent. His father Tyrone Heskey worked as the security at the nightclubs in Leicester.
He attended City of Leicester School in Evington. At the age of eleven, he appeared on TV for the first time in the ‘Rod Hull and Emu Show’ in April 1989.
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Career at Leicester City
Emile Heskey, who played for the local Leicester youth team Ratby Groby Juniors during his childhood, was accepted into Leicester City's football academy at the age of nine. On March 8, 1995, at the age of 17, he made his first-team debut against Queens Park Rangers and subsequently signed a professional contract with the club on October 3, 1995.
In the 1995-96 season, he helped his team earn promotion to the Premier League for the next season, and scored a decisive goal in their 1997 League Cup Final win against Middlesbrough. After scoring 10 Premier League goals in two consecutive seasons, he was criticized for scoring only six times during the 1998-99 season, but was praised for his unselfish assists.
Career at Liverpool
Following his League Cup win for Leicester City in 2000, he transferred to Liverpool for a record £11 million deal. He debuted for the team in a Premier League match against Sunderland on March 11, 2000 and scored his first goal in the following month.
During the 2000-01 season, he helped Liverpool win the FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Cup treble with 22 goals. While he remained at Liverpool despite a £12 million offer from Tottenham Hotspur, he scored only 9 goals in 2002-03 and sustained an injury in the next season, which increased his competition in the team.
In 2002, he supported the consortium led by Gary Lineker with a six-figure donation in their bid to buy-out his former club, Leicester City, which was facing financial difficulties.
Career at Birmingham City
He signed a five-year contract with Birmingham City on May 18, 2004, and played his first match for the team against Portsmouth on August 14. While his club did not perform well during the season, he was the top scorer with 11 goals and was named ‘Player of the Season’ by his club peers, as well as fans.
Career at Wigan Athletic
He was criticized and abused by fans for inconsistence performance during 2005-06 season, in which Birmingham suffered relegation, and subsequently left the club to join Wigan Athletic on July 7, 2006. His time at the club was marred by injuries but he managed to score a few goals.
Career at Aston Villa
Emile Heskey signed a three-and-a-half-year contract with Aston Villa on January 23, 2009 and scored a goal in his debut match against Portsmouth four days later. Playing under coach Gérard Houllier, who also managed him at Liverpool, he had a successful season during 2010-11 and went on to score match winning goals. Following an unsuccessful 2011-12 season, he was released from the club in May 2012.
Career at Newcastle Jets
He next moved to Australian A-League club Newcastle Jets on September 21, 2012, and went on to earn a nomination for the club’s ‘Player of the Year’ award with 9 goals in 23 matches. He scored only once in the next season, and left the club at the end of the season.
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Career at Bolton Wanderers
He signed a short-term contract with Bolton Wanderers on December 24, 2014, and helped his team win against Blackburn with a goal in his debut match as a substitute two days later. He played for the club till the end of 2015-16 season and retired after his contract expired.
Emile Heskey played for the national under-16 team at the 1994 UEFA European Under-16 Championship and for the under-18 team at the European Championships in France, in which they finished third. In the 17 matches he played for the national under-21 team, he scored six goals, and also scored a goal in his only appearance for the England B team in 1998.
He made his senior level debut in a friendly against Hungary on April 28, 1999, and was later selected for the 2002 FIFA World Cup, in which they reached quarter-finals. He was also selected in the squad for UEFA Euro 2004, but lost his place after he failed to perform well.
He returned to the squad during the UEFA Euro 2008 qualifiers on the recommendation of Michael Owen, and impressed fans as well as critics with a couple terrific performances. During the 2010 FIFA World Cup qualifiers, he formed an effective strike partnership Wayne Rooney and scored his first goal for England against Slovakia.
Awards & Achievements
While playing for Leicester City, Emile Heskey helped his team win the League Cup twice in 1996-97 and in 1999-2000. Liverpool won the FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Cup treble in 2000-01, in which his contribution was 22 goals and many assists.
Emile Heskey was named Birmingham City’s ‘Player's Player of the Season’ and ‘Fan's Player of the Season’ in 2004-05. He was nominated for the Newcastle Jets' ‘Player of the Year’ award in 2012-13.
Personal Life & Legacy
Emile Heskey was in a relationship with Kylee Pinsent in 2004 and has three children with her. She left him after his two-year-old affair with Chantelle Tagoe became public.
He started dating Chantelle Tagoe secretly in 2002, when he was still with Pinsent. He married Tagoe in May 2014 and has three children with her.
In July 2008, while Emile Heskey was away at a training session, his fiancée Chantelle Tagoe was held at knifepoint at their home in Hale, Greater Manchester by burglars. They looted his house and stole his car, but Tagoe and her two children were unharmed.
He is often referred to by the nickname ‘Bruno’ for his likeness to the British professional boxer Frank Bruno. He is known for bludgeoning into the opponent team’s defense with his immense figure.