A Cutter reader tells of the day he spent recently in the company of Emile Ivanhoe Heskey.


Following recent damning evidence that there is an ‘alarming rift between multi-millionaire, top flight footballers, and the masses of pie-eating, scarf wearing, sing-till-I’m blue-in-the-face fans who prop up the entire industry’ a concerned FA is piloting their newest and most radical initiative yet.

The ‘FA reach for the stars’ competition allows fans to meet their idols, and familiarise themselves with football stars who would normally be miles out of reach.

This initiative sought prospective applicants, and after several letters of request, I was lucky enough to be successful, and to spend the entire day with one of England and Aston Villa’s current superstars.

Meeting Emile Heskey, I was unsure what to expect. Emile is only 33 years old, and a stalwart of a mediocre England football team, having played in 3 World cups, 2002, 2006 and 2010, retiring after the South Africa 2010 World Cup. He has won the treble with Liverpool (“the treble, well not the proper treble but a treble all the same”-Steven Gerrard, 2003.), and his name is synonomous with underachievement.

'This is the closest I'll get to wearing this thing'.

Heskey made his first appearance in the premier league in the 1996/07 season, dragging his home-town team with him, Leicester city. Since then he has played for Liverpool, Wigan and Aston Villa in England’s top flight.

When I met Emile, I was surprised that he arrived in a less than lavish 2009 Vauxhall Astra, which the FA representative was keen for me to stress, is an ‘ordinary-fan’s car’.  If this didn’t lead me to believe that this was a ploy by the FA to create an image of players being ‘just ordinary lads’, the activities they had in mind certainly did. We, Emile and I, were going to the pub for a pint and a game of darts.

Quite surprisingly, the pub we had been taken to, the Hawk’s Head, was totally empty. A doorman led our party, which comprised  Emile, myself and our FA representative, to the bar.

Although being a top-flight athlete, where a lack of fitness can cost you your team place, Emile chose a pint of lager, a bag of peanuts and a family-sized bag of prawn cocktail crisps. When I quizzed Emile, he grinned, “I probably won’t even be playing this week anyway!!”

The FA rep was quick to edit the order, and Emile ended up with a pint of water with a healthy sized lemon wedge. After a quick whisper in his ear, Emile laughed and came out with his trademark impression of John Coffey from Green Mile.

“Yes Bossssss”

It was during a strangely competitive game of darts, that I was able to grill Emile the star further…

You have been involved with top level football for nearly 14 years now, what have been your career highlight?

I won the cup treble with Liverpool in 2001. I had a good season that year; I think I got 22 or 23 goals that season (23 to be precise!)

And have you had any particular Career low?

The following year, in the 2002 Japan/ Korea World Cup. I was playing out of position. Since when do I play well on the left-wing! Sven was a bloody fruit loop. I suffered a lot of criticism that year, a lot of which I still get to this day! People don’t understand my style of play. Unfortunately for me, sometimes I don’t understand it myself.

Is there anything that would surprise your fans? A little known fact maybe?

Firstly, that I still play professional football. It’s surprising how many people come up to me and ask why I don’t play anymore.

I also take part in table-tagging. It’s a cult where people construct their own cryptic crossword clues, and carve them into pub tables.

(It wasn’t till afterwards that I noticed some writing carved into our own table. It read; Favourable outcome (7)  -_  _ C _ _ S _ .

I also like to take part in ‘team-stealing’, where we pinch things from opponent bars and clubs. Old Trafford can be a laugh, like Stevie G once stole a signed photo of Matt Busby from there. I once got in a lot of bother for stealing a till from one place- some people just don’t understand this game! Others take it too far; Ryan Giggs recently stuffed a Welsh songbird on a trip to Cardiff. Things like this are rife, but are always covered up.

Do you see a rift between premiership footballers and the fans?

Yes, of course.

Emile looks at our FA man, who prompts him.. “The FA..

Emile continues, “The FA understand the issue, and are constantly trying to bridge the gap between high profile footballers and the fans, who are of upmost importance to us.”

Everyone ‘in the know’ was adamant that, amongst the high profile multi-million pound signings, you were on your way to Manchester City. Is this true? And why didn’t it materialise?

Yes it is true; I was told that Mancini had made an offer around the £21million mark. I was still tied into a contract with Villa, and I was reluctant to move, so I decided to stay. I was signed for £3.5million in Jan 2009 at Villa on a 3.5 year contract.

Maybe in the summer?


Rumour has it that you have a particularly high IQ?

Yes I’ve been told it is within the top 10 percentile. I have been asked to be a contestant on Countdown, against Clark blood Carlisle (Clarke is playing for Burnley, and is the chairman of the PFA. He also appeared on the erudite Channel Four quiz show, beating reigning champion Adam Guest). People need to understand that, playing in the Premier League leaves little time to swan off to Countdown, playing with numbers and letters.

So when you retire, you will?

I think I’ll consider it, yes.

So you’re planning your retirement already?

Not just yet, I’m still only 33. I’m always progressing, and maybe I’ll be winning trophies with Manchester City.

Our time was now up! We thanked Emile for his time.

Say what you want about his style of play, criticise it as much as you like (and the majority do), but Emile is a good lad. We are currently awaiting the FA’s verdict about how successful this scheme has been. Meanwhile, the FA is still accepting applications and requests so if you want to request a day with a superstar, then get in touch. Over and out!