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Emile Heskey's greatest games: "It felt like the start of something special..."

Emile Heskey and Paul Scholes for England
Emile Heskey playing in England's 5-1 victory over Germany (Image credit: Getty Images)

Emile Heskey made over 800 appearances during a career that spanned 22 years, and saw him lift four League Cups, an FA Cup, a UEFA Cup and a UEFA Super Cup.

In his early years with Leicester and Liverpool, he also established himself in the England side, often as a strike partner for his Reds team-mate Michael Owen.

Here, he tells FourFourTwo about the games that changed his life...

Leicester 3 Norwich 2 (1995)

December 17, 1995 First Division 

“I was 17 and this was one of my first games. We were 2-1 down, but I came off the bench and set up Iwan Roberts, and then scored myself with 10 minutes left to make it 3-2. Rob Ullathorne played a back-pass, and I nicked it off him to score. About a year later, he joined us! I always backed myself to make an impact as a substitute, especially when I was younger – I was bursting with energy to play and didn’t feel any pressure. We were in between managers and Martin O’Neill was watching in the stands [having quit Norwich that morning, before taking over Leicester], but it didn’t matter to me.”

Leicester 1 Middlesbrough 1 (1997)

April 6, 1997 League Cup final

“We’d played Middlesbrough at home three weeks before and got battered 3-1, so O’Neill used Pontus Kaamark to mark Juninho out the game – he just followed him around. They had an amazing team, with him, Fabrizio Ravanelli and Emerson, but we were confident. I hit a two-yard worldie at the end of extra time to equalise, and we won the replay at Hillsborough. It was brilliant playing at Wembley – you got so much energy from all the fans. The Twin Towers were still there and you saw a sea of blue as you drove in. It was the first of three finals from 1997-2000, and my fondest memory at Leicester.”

England 0 Argentina 0 (2000)

February 23, 2000 Friendly

“It was my first start and I played very well. I was so good that they took their centre-back [Roberto Sensini] off after 40 minutes because I’d destroyed him! Years later, I met an Argentine journalist who worked in London, and he said I got him in trouble. Their coach, Marcelo Bielsa, had asked him to do some research on the England team, and he told Bielsa I wouldn’t start because Kevin Phillips was in such good form. After the game, Bielsa phoned him and said, ‘I’m not talking to you ever again!’”

Germany 1 England 5 (2001)

September 1, 2001 World Cup qualifier

“Everyone knows exactly where they were. It was important because we’d already lost to Germany in the last match at the old Wembley, which was Kevin Keegan’s final game as manager. We went 1-0 down but regrouped, and it was an incredible feeling at full-time. Sven-Goran Eriksson was very calm and never got irate. You knew exactly what he wanted from you – he’d move pieces around on his little clipboard, so when you went on you had all the information you needed. It felt like the start
of something special for the ‘Golden Generation’.”

LONGREAD What happened to England's "Golden Generation"? How the country's most talented squad never came good

Emile Heskey was speaking at an event for the EFL

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Alex Jennings spent the 2019-20 season on loan at FourFourTwo writing digital features and now works on the Daily Mail’s sport desk. He has also written for the Independent and is a proud Italophile. As a fan of Everton and the England national cricket team, he is, frankly, tired by success.