Emile Heskey believes football in Australia has potential for exponential growth based on the strength of the Hyundai A-League.
Former England international Emile Heskey believes football in Australia has potential for exponential growth based on the strength of the Hyundai A-League competition.
Heskey has spent the past two seasons as the Newcastle Jets- marquee striker, scoring 10 goals in 42 appearances for the Club.
The former Liverpool front man said he saw similarities between the Hyundai A-League and Major League Soccer in the United States, a competition which has cemented a foothold in America-s competitive sporting landscape and continues to develop and improve year on year.
Heskey said that having a flourishing domestic competition would provide the ideal platform for football-s continued growth in Australia from a grassroots level right through to the national team.
“It-s been brilliant,” Heskey said.
“When I came over I didn-t know a lot about the league, but I spoke to people like Robbie Fowler and Michael Bridges who told me it-s not an easy competition to play in and that-s proven to be the case.
“You-ve got some really talented players who made the step from the A-League to Europe and made a name for themselves and that-s the calibre of players who are coming through the A-League competition.
“There-s more and more players like that who are going to come out of the Australian competition and that-s how you can see that the football is growing here.
“The potential of the league is massive and I think it-s similar in a lot of ways to Major League Soccer in the US.”
Along with World Cup winner Alessandro Del Piero (Sydney FC) and former Japanese international Shinji Ono (Western Sydney Wanderers), Heksey was part of a trio of big-name signings that brought international acclaim to the Hyundai A-League ahead of the 2012/13 season.
Heskey said he would encourage other players of a similar calibre to ply their trade in the Hyundai A-League based on his experiences.
“It-s a great experience and the level of football is very good, so it-s a great opportunity for players to come out here and enjoy some great times in a growing league,” Heskey said.
“I-d definitely recommend it to any play that asked me what it is like to play in Australia.”
Heskey was glowing in his praise of the City of Newcastle and the support he has received from Jets Members and the Hunter community over the past two years.
“I-ve enjoyed every minute of it,” Heskey said.
“Everyone in the Club and the city has taken to me well and it was a really nice transition to get settled in.
“The city has been great and ideally just what I wanted.
“When (Jets CEO) Robbie Middleby and (Hunter Sports Group CEO) Troy Palmer came over and visited me in England, and obviously after speaking to Michael Bridges it gave me the feeling that the Newcastle Jets is a community club.
“Having been here now for two seasons, it-s exactly that and even more, so it-s been great.
“The fans have been brilliant not only for me, but the whole team, picking us up when we-ve needed their support.
“It-s been difficult at times, but they-ve been behind us the whole way and that-s something special about this Club.”
With the majority of the current Jets squad under contract for next season, Heskey said he felt confident the Club could return to the Finals Series after narrowly missing out in 2013/14.
“I think we were only two or three games away from actually making the finals and we finished the season quite strongly,” Heskey said.
“There-s a lot of talent and potential in the squad and hopefully next season this squad can hit the ground running, take it to the next level and get into that top six.”