| HESKEY: Foil to Owen
St Gallen (Switzerland): Michael Owen scores the goals and reaps the glory for Liverpool and England. Emile Heskey shoulders the physical challenge and takes much criticism when his efforts go unnoticed.
But so long as Owen is scoring he does not mind. Heskey is happy doing the dirty work.
After making 31 England appearances, 11 of them as a substitute, the former Leicester City striker has accepted his role as the battering foil to Owen’s rapier strikes.
On Saturday, when England play Liechtenstein in a Euro 2004 qualifier, it is likely to be more of the same.
“If the manager is happy with me, then I’m happy,” said Heskey on Thursday, reacting to questions from journalists so often quick to criticise him.
Asked about his partnership with Owen, he said: “We complement each other very well. Yes, if he scores, then that’s half my job done.”
While Heskey may be modest about his role in the team, his Liverpool and England teammate Steven Gerrard does not hold back in his praise.
“Emile is often ignored and misunderstood,” said Gerrard. “He is very important. I rate him highly. He works so hard for the team, he makes terrific runs off the ball, he holds the ball up well and he does it all for the rest of the side.
“He is not selfish at all. He is a strong player and he is more of a team player than the out-and-out strikers like Owen.
“He is the guy who will do all the dirty work and that is important for every team. A lot of Michael’s goals come from Emile’s work.” (Reuters)