Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Critics Are Wide of the Mark - Heskey

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Critics Are Wide of the Mark - Heskey

Article excerpt

Byline: By David Prentice

New Birmingham City signing Emile Heskey is happiest when he is on centre stage.

But at Euro 2004 this summer, the big ex-Liverpool striker is content to carry on playing the wide boy.

Heskey's goals return from his 40 England appearances is a forlorn five strikes ( the last of which came a year ago in South Africa.

But a succession of England coaches have remained faithful to his other qualities ( and Heskey himself defended his record.

"The criticism has been harsh," he said. "I am a striker, but a lot of the time I spent at Liverpool I was playing on the left wing, being a provider more than a scorer. Of course, strikers are judged on goals and I want to get more than I do, but I ignore the criticism.

"It's just people trying to sell papers. Fans I have met in the street have told me `don't listen to what people say.' I also get letters supporting me and that helps.

"I am prepared to play there but my best position is centre-forward. Playing on the left is hard work.

"The Liverpool defenders helped me, always giving me advice, but it's hard because I don't know the position as well as I do centre-forward."

Heskey was back in his favoured role in the run-up to Euro 2004, helping Liverpool to qualify for next season's Champions League.

Now relishing playing at St Andrews alongside Mikael Forssell, Heskey was up front alongside Michael Owen at Birmingham in a pivotal match to Liverpool's fortunes ( both scored ( but Heskey's overall display brought memories flooding back of the powerhouse performances which persuaded Liverpool to spend pounds 11m on his services.

It is a partnership he hopes to reclaim in Portugal, despite the emergence at Everton of another talented English striker, Wayne Rooney.

"I first played with Michael at England Under-18 level and we have had a good understanding since then," said Heskey. …

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