The England Manager has called up Emile Heskey, after such a terrible time for England and their torrid run of recent results. Yes, we too at the TNS offices in Wigan are surprised, though not truly shocked with Emile’s recent run of form in the Wigan team.
Now this Manager is not Roy Hodgson who’s made this selection.
Ironically enough as Roy himself whilst watchihg England play Norway, mentally selects his team to play Switzerland in the European Championship Qualifiers. One of his previous incarnations in Steve McLaren, was at the same time 7 years earlier, picking an England Team to play Israel in the same European Qualifiers!
So why write about this, well it is almost 7 years to the day that this happened, but why is it worth of writing about? Well Emile Heskey has that unique distinction of being the first ever true Wigan player to gain a Cap for England whilst playing at Wigan.
Okay, Okay, some might think you’re being a bit smart, raise your arm and go “errrmmm what about that bloke in goal, that Chris Kirkland?”
Well though he did play for England on the 16th August 2006, as a Wigan player, he was indeed on loan from Liverpool & only signed permanent for Wigan on the 27th October, later that year. Okay, might be splitting a few hairs, but in essence when he replaced Paul Robinson in goal at half time against Greece, he was both a Liverpool & Wigan loan player.
Like a Wigan player in Larry Lloyd he gained 4 caps as an England player, but had gained them well before he joined Wigan in March 1981.
So to Emile and his match with Israel, he partnered Michael Owen up front, England eventually winning the match 3-0 at Wembley, to give England 17 points from 8 games. Of course at that time Steve McLaren was under a lot of pressure to get England to the Euro 08 in Austria & Switzerland. This result did a lot to put England back on course to qualifying, if you can remember they were competing against Russia, Croatia and Israel for 2 qualification places.
That day I was such a proud Wigan Athletic fan, as Emile had took a lot of derision from fellow football fans, but I didn’t care, I was proud that ‘little Wigan‘ had a player good enough to play for England. I took this photo to remind me, it still to this day makes me proud.
Also 4 days later, Emile was part of the England team that beat Russia 3-0 at Wembley Stadium, to put qualification back in the hands of Steve McLaren’s England Team.
Late September/early October saw Emile injured in a Wigan match, I can’t remember which, it meant he couldn’t rejoin the England team for their expected victory against Estonia 3-0 again at Wembley on the 13th October.
We’ll also never know if Emile’s absence from the England team, contributed to the 2 defeats on the spin, which meant England didn’t qualify for Euro 2008. First losing to Russia on a plastic pitch in Moscow, on the 17th October.
Then the famous ‘Wally with a Brolly’ match, were on the 21st November, England lost 3-2 at Wembley stadium against Croatia; yes we were even at Home!
England only needed a draw & had dragged themselves back from 2-0 down, to get it to the needed 2-2 with goals from Lampard & Crouch. But alas in the 77th minute Petric struck, it meant England finished 3rd in Group E, behind Croatia and Russia, and the summer of 2008 for me was spent in London without the need to watch football.
P.S. Emile, thanks for all the memories at Wigan, I’ll never forget that 2nd half display against Sheffield United.
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