Great Britain

Emile Heskey admits England’s 5-1 thrashing of Germany still fills him with joy… even if fans’ song isn’t the kindest

DO NOT be surprised to hear Emile Heskey’s name being sung at Wembley on Tuesday night.

The Three Lions cult hero managed just seven goals in his 62 caps.

But he entered England folklore when he made it 5-1 against Germany 20 years ago.

His old mucker Michael Owen had already scored a hat-trick, while Liverpool team-mate Steven Gerrard also blasted a banger.

But it is the memory of Heskey racing on to Paul Scholes’ pass and finding the corner, before celebrating with a DJ record-spin and a golf putt, that best summed up that mad mauling in Munich.

Supporters have chanted ‘Five one and even Heskey scored’ to the tune of the Village People’s Go West ever since and will no doubt power it out ahead of the last-16 clash with the Germans.

Heskey, 43, said: “Wherever I go in the world, I always bump into an England fan who will say they know exactly where they were when that game was being played.

“That just fills you with joy because it’s a memory that everyone cherishes and I was a part of for a whole nation.

“I did that 20 years ago and 20 years on they’re still chanting my name. It’s not a bad thing!”

That goal in 2001 immortalised Heskey in England’s footballing history.

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A DVD was even made of the game, which the former Leicester and Liverpool striker has a copy of — although he claims he never watches it.

Gareth Southgate’s squad have a great opportunity to make themselves legends at these Euros, with their side of the draw about as kind as it gets.

First, they will have to beat Germany, who, despite some patchy recent form and an unconvincing group display, Heskey still feels will be a tough nut to crack.

He said: “With a German team of old, you know exactly what you’re getting — powerful engines.

“You think of German technology and that’s the team — something that goes and goes, never stops, works and looks good.

“Now they’ve got a new generation that are finding their own feet. They’re in transition.

“But it’s still a German side. I don’t think they’re ever going to lie down and say, ‘We’re not as good as England’.

“England should take the best things from themselves, know they can go out there and beat this Germany side with their tactical know-how, the management and the players showing on the pitch that they can perform under pressure and that they are the better players.”

Heskey would favour England switching to a back three of Harry Maguire, John Stones and Tyrone Mings against Germany, with Luke Shaw and either Reece James or Kieran Trippier as the wing-backs for their delivery.

He feels Southgate will stick with two-goal Raheem Sterling as well as his two holding midfielders.

It means that if they do revert to three centre-backs, it is likely to be a shootout between Jack Grealish and Bukayo Saka for that last spot behind Harry Kane.

Heskey added: “Jack set up the goal against the Czech Republic and was fantastic.

“But Saka has given them a dilemma. He showed a fearlessness, he took people on and that’s what we’ve been begging for.”

Whatever Southgate goes for, Heskey agrees that Tuesday’s encounter is a landmark moment in the England manager’s reign.

No one expected the Three Lions to make the World Cup semi-finals three years ago but now many are pointing out how favourable the draw was in that tournament.

England have hardly set the Euros alight but have done what was required.

Beat a big-hitter like Germany, though, and people will begin to believe.

Heskey, who played with Southgate for England, added: “It’s a huge game for his legacy. Get through this to the quarters and the semis.

“That’s massive for Gareth because you’re not saying he’s taken an easy route — he’s beaten Germany.”

Heskey knows just what that feels like.

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