It’s no longer new news, but England will now be without their second or third choice striker Emile Heskey as he’s recently announced his retirement from international football. But my question to you the readers of EPL Talk is: will he be missed?
By examining Heskey’s numbers one will find that he’s had a respectable run of service with the England national team appearing 62 times yet has returned a poor goal scoring record having netted only seven. Often described as a classic number 9 with every attribute except prolificacy in front of goal, Heskey embodied a striker that could create space for those around him with his pace, power, strength, touch and his ability in the air.
When partnering an out and out goal scorer like a Michael Owen in his prime, Heskey’s ability to create space with his movement and ability to hold up the ball resulted in one of England’s most famous victories of their footballing history, the 5-1 demolition of Germany in Munich. On the night, Owen recorded a hat trick while Heskey added a goal on way to the famous route.
On his day and in the right formation, Heskey is a valuable player. ‘He’s a top professional and hard worker’ according to his current Aston Villa teammate Brad Friedel who spoke about Heskey’s retirement on the 5 Live Football Daily podcast. Friedel went on to discuss how he understands that there can be a difference of opinion concerning Heskey yet supports him anyway because of his professionalism and dedication to his team. Heskey’s appearances in the World Cup were lackluster to average at best, although the same can be said for that of other England players also.
The time does in fact seem right for Mr. Heskey to focus on club football with Aston Villa. They’ll need his experience either coming off the bench or leading the line more than the England team will. As the continental brand of football led by the emerging 4-2-3-1 formation (the teams that finished first, second and third in the World Cup all implemented this formation) continues to evolve, starting spots on national teams for players like Heskey will soon start to become few and far between.
On a side note, England’s failure to deal with Germany’s 4-2-3-1 v their 4-4-2, was largely the reason England were overrun in midfield. The 4-2-3-1 allowed the Germans an extra man in midfield higher up the pitch which allowed players like Mesut Ozil to find Miroslav Klose, Lukas Podolski and others who would drift into space created by Germany’s width. I digress, so surely an idea for a future post.
So what say you EPL Talk readers, will England miss Mr. Heskey’s ability to hold up the ball and drag defenders out as Wayne Rooney blitzes in on goal? Or, will the next round of England qualification matches go on as if Heskey was simply a fading breeze in the memory of England fans?