I must say, I've been quite set a back by some of the slander my eyes have had the displeasure of reading over the last couple of weeks. That slander being aimed at Bolton Wanderers' veteran striker - Emile Heksey.
In the aftermath of the news that Craig Davies is to be released by the club, but Heskey is still in contract negotiations to remain for another year, a surprisingly large number of supporters took to various open forums on the internet to spout their displeasure at the fact. Most saying something along the lines of: "Heskey isn't good enough", "he's just a carthorse", "he's past it" yaddy yaddy yadda.
To those people I say: have you actually watched the club other the past few months?!? Have you not noticed how much Heskey has contributed to the side? Can you not see how much more fucked we'd have been with out him?
I'm not going to stand here and lie to your faces, Heskey is in no way, shape or form a goal threat. He hasn't been for the past ten years. He missed countless sitters whilst playing in a white (sometimes snot green) shirt. Glorious chances that I'd even bet on myself to tuck away, and I'm seriously shit at football. I don't have a single idea why his tree trunk built legs instantaneously turn to butter when ever he finds himself through on goal, but they do, and that's the reason he has this comedic representation in the media and the minds of fans who've never seen him play for their own team.
His first and only goal for the Trotters was on his debut, on Boxing Day, against Blackburn Rovers.
He isn't a goalscorer. No question.
But Neil Lennon knew that, I knew that, you knew that, we all knew that, I bet even Heskey knows that. But the lumbering forward has brought so much to this withering Bolton side this season, and you're the ones lying to my face if you say other wise.
He was never supposed to play the amount of minutes he did last year, but it was startling just how match fit he was and how he managed to play so much. Of course, at times he looked as if he was on the cusp of keeling over, but he is a 38 year-old man after all. But he's certainly been able to keep himself match fit for the vast majority, and the same can not be said about the departing Davies.
Here's why Emile Heskey deserves a new contract at the Macron Stadium.
As I said just a few moments prior, Heskey brings so much more to the team than goals (although they would be nice, of course). He's a true target man. Even as the embers of his career slowly start to fade away, he still absolutely terrifies defenders and dominates nearly all of them. I remember when he first trudged onto the pitch wearing a white shirt; we won a corner only a few minutes into the second half against Blackburn, and Heskey rose like a salmon on some form of illegal muscle enhancer to try and meet the ball. After that three of Rovers' burly defenders were arguing with each other over who was going to mark the big man. They didn't know what hit them.
Heskey's link up and hold up play are also second to none. Not since the days of Super Kevin Davies leading the Wanderers front line have we seen a player able to pluck the ball out of the air from a goal kick, hold off a challenger and then bring another player into play. His passing and his first touch also came as a great surprise to me, as they're both fantastic. Yes, sometimes he can let the ball run away from him, but just look at some of the intelligent passes he's made this season and the amount of goals he's created from either his strength or his skill.
Add all that to the wealth of experience he has, which can do nothing but aid the young strikers we have in our squad who we all hope to see make it in the first team one day. Conor Wilkinson, who plays in a similar style to Heskey, would do well to take full notice of how Heskey plays the game.
I'm not claiming he's the best striker in the world, nor am I saying he is the cure to all our woes - a new striker or three are definitely still needed. But we'd be a load of absolute fools to throw away all the ability and experience Heskey still has to offer, especially when he proved beyond all doubt last season that he still does have it.
I feel Emile Heskey is a player you can only truly appreciate once you've seen him play for your club, once you've seen the amount of hard work he does and just how much he offers to a team. It's extremely easy as an outsider looking in to go along with the running joke about Heskey just being a complete and utter donkey. I'm sure we've all laughed at him in the past, I certainly have. But now I've seen him play for my team, I do appreciate just how good of a player he is.
I hope you do too.