"Winning isn't everything; it's the only thing."
Even Heskey scored
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Worthing, Pitch Publishing, 2019 ISBN 978 178531500 8Emile Heskey had an illustrious career, playing six years with Leicester City and four with Liverpool, followed by spells at Birmingham City, Wigan Athletic, Aston Villa and Bolton Wanderers. He scored over 100 Premier League goals. He played 62 times for England including the amazing 5-1 win in Germany in which he scored. The book title is a subtle way of getting back at those in the media who did and rated as a player. Following England’s 5-1 win over Germany someone commented that it had been so easy that even Heskey scored!
Remarkably he played in six league cup finals winning two with Leicester City and two with Liverpool as well as losing one with Leicester and one with Aston villa. He writes of the League Cup: “Lot of people didn’t value the League Cup back then perhaps they still don’t now but I did - it’s a trophy, a final, a day out for the fans and a route into European. I experienced that with Leicester and people still speak about those days now. It’s also unique as it’s a cup that you win during the season as opposed to it being at the end, so you can use that positive feeling to inspire the rest of your season and create that winning habit”.
Playing for Liverpool was a dream and he did OK, scoring 39 league goals. He writes that he was excited rather than nervous about joining a big club, always believing that he had the talent to succeed and letting issues like the £11 million transfer fee pass him by. He writes with relish of the experience of playing alongside Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and Michael Owen and offers disappointment at being told after four years that he was no longer wanted by Liverpool. He regrets not staying to fight for his place.
Heskey seems to have had a great fondness for all the clubs he played for particularly Leicester City, his hometown team, but also for Liverpool, Aston Villa and Bolton Wanderers. His sense of gratitude for having the career that he did comes out strongly.
The book addresses issues which are often absent from the stereotypical footballers’ autobiographies. He writes about the difficulties of retiring from football, losing the routine and the camaraderie, commenting that it’s a scary time and no surprise that many players don’t cope with that very well.
And on a related subject he asks how one could be involved in the football industry for perhaps 20 years and leave without any qualification – whether coaching, sport science or business – so that one is ill prepared for any future career.
Sadly he talks about experiencing racism as a young man and how racism remains a problem within football but he’s far from being exclusively football’s problem.
A good read and a well above average football book.