Heskey ponders S.League future

It’s not quite a come-and-get-me plea from a former English Premier League star, but ex-Liverpool striker Emile Heskey has welcomed the suggestion of turning out in the S.League.

Heskey opened the scoring with a neatly taken finish during the Castlewood Group Liverpool Masters’ 3-1, and spoke candidly about a possible chance to ply his trade in Singapore.

Referring to the humidity, he told the assembled media: “God knows. It’s very difficult to play in this weather.”

He then added: “But you never know. I am open to suggestions and I obviously have my agent who will take care of all these things, but why not? I can still play but it just depends on what comes about.”

If he were to sign for a club in Singapore, the former Leicester City, Wigan Atheltic and Aston Villa forward would fall under the marquee player category.

Announced ahead of the 2013 S.League season, clubs are allowed to sign marquee players based on their own budget limitations. In addition, marquee players would have no salary caps or age limits, and can forego the otherwise mandatory Beep Test.

But since the implementation, the league has failed to see the desired effects with successful marquee players a rarity. Home United’s Lee Kwan Woo, Balestier Khalsa’s Goran Ljubojevic and Tanjong Pagar’s Monsef Zerka have been hits, but none can claim to bring fans flocking to stadiums to witness their exploits.

Meanwhile, the likes of Kazuyuki Toda, Martin Wagner and Miljan Mrdakovic have failed to impress.

The importance of choosing the right players was not lost on Heskey.

“You have to pick the right marquee players because we have seen some do not do so well, and that’s when you’re back at square one,” the former England international continued.

Heskey turned out for Newcastle Jets in the 2012-13 A.League campaign alongside other household names in Western Sydney Wanderers’ Shinji Ono and legendary Italian forward Alessandro Del Piero, who mesmerised in the blue kit of Sydney FC.

And according to Heskey, the presence of three quality players successfully boosted the profile of the league in Australia.

He said: “It’s always nice to have that [marquee players].  It provides the buzz, draws the crowd and helps to promote the league, especially in the respective countries the marquee players originated from.”

He continued: “It [the A-League] gathered a lot of momentum when Shinji [Ono], Del Piero and I played there.”

Photo credit: Weixiang Lim/FourFourTwo