The FA Cup holds fond memories for Emile Heskey, but a chance to play against former team Liverpool, when a few months ago he was clubless and working for their TV channel, will be among the sweetest for the former England striker.
Heskey’s career appeared to be done and dusted when he returned from a spell in the Australian A-League, generally perceived to be a final destination for players who once flourished in big European Cups.
A move to second tier Bolton Wanderers, however, has offered him a last hurrah, while a fortunate FA Cup fourth round draw has handed him the chance to run out on Saturday against Liverpool, with whom he won the competition in 2001.
“It’s a wonderful thing to go back,” Heskey said.
“I’m 37, I’m not a young lad; to go back and play at Anfield is a great thing. It wasn’t long ago, a few months ago, when I was doing LFCTV so to actually be going back there and putting my boots on and playing against Liverpool is wonderful.
“I’ve thought about it. The fans were wonderful to me while I was there. I’ll hopefully get a good reception and play my heart out.”
A bulldozer of a centre forward at his peak, Heskey scored 60 goals in 223 appearances for Liverpool in a four-year spell from 2000.
He won the UEFA Cup and League Cup in the superb treble winning season of 2001 and added a second League Cup to his trophy cabinet in 2003.
The FA Cup, however, retains a special place in his heart.
Having scored one of the goals that helped beat Wycombe Wanderers to reach the final in 2001, he started Liverpool’s 2-1 victory over Arsenal at the Millennium Stadium.
“The FA Cup still means everything,” added Heskey, who won 62 caps for England.
“When you’re growing up it’s the one everyone wants to win and I have been lucky enough to do that.”
Fixtures from the English FA Cup 4th Round weekend matches
Saturday, January 24
Blackburn Rovers(II) v Swansea City (1445)
Birmingham City(II) v West Bromwich Albion (1700)
Cardiff City(II) v Reading(II) (1700)
Chelsea v Bradford City(III) (1700)
Derby County(II) v Chesterfield(III) (1700)
Manchester City v Middlesbrough(II) (1700)
Preston North End(III) v Sheffield United(III) (1700)
Southampton v Crystal Palace (1700)
Sunderland v Fulham(II) (1700)
Tottenham Hotspur v Leicester City (1700)
Liverpool v Bolton Wanderers(II) (1930)
Sunday, January 25
Bristol City(III) v West Ham United (1600)
Aston Villa v AFC Bournemouth(II) (1700)
Brighton and Hove Albion(II) v Arsenal (1800)
Monday, January 26
Rochdale(III) v Stoke City (2200)