Rejuvenated Aston Villa striker Emile Heskey puts his new-found form down to being reunited with old boss Gerard Houllier.
Houllier paid a then club record £11million to bring Heskey to Liverpool from Leicester in 2000 and the former England international enjoyed his best years under the Frenchman.
Heskey netted 22 goals, an unthinkable tally for a player often criticised for his inability to find the net, in Liverpool’s cup treble winning season in 2000-01.
Houllier’s successor Rafa Benitez flogged the brutish forward to Birmingham for a cut price in 2004 and the former Wigan striker has since struggled to redeem his reputation.
However, with Houllier returning to the Premier League at Villa Park, Heskey has scored in back-to-back games for the first time since April 2008 in the Frenchman’s opening two games in league and cup.
Stretching back to the pair’s last collaborations at the Reds in 2004, the former England international has four in his last five games managed by Houllier, and he admits their reunion has played a part in his recent form.
“It’s nice to be reunited with the manager,” Heskey told Premierleague.com. “I know all about him and fingers crossed he will bring good times back to Villa.
“He did brilliantly at Liverpool and I am sure he can do the same here. He has many qualities and discipline on and off the park is one thing he definitely brings.”
Heskey has been made a scapegoat all too often in his time, and none more so than in his international career, as English fans and media must find someone to point the finger at when it all goes tits up, as so often it does.
Having retired from England duty with seven goals in 62 appearances, Heskey is determined to build on last season’s double cup run with Villa, and insists he has nothing left to prove.
He added: “You’ve got to keep yourself going. Football is a funny game with loads of ups and downs in my career and I’ve managed to keep myself sane.
“Has my Villa move lived up to expectations? I don’t know. Every move has its up and downs. I went to a cup final and semi-final last year. That’s the first time I’ve done that in four or five years. I can’t say it’s been a bad thing.
“I’ll just keep plugging away. I don’t need to show anyone I can play. I just go out there and perform to the best of my ability.”
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