2010 FIFA World Cup: The Importance of Emile Heskey

Ieuan BeynonCorrespondent IIIJune 12, 2010

RUSTENBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JUNE 12:  Emile Heskeyof England stands for the national anthems prior to the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Group C match between England and USA at the Royal Bafokeng Stadium on June 12, 2010 in Rustenburg, South Africa.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images)
Michael Regan/Getty Images

Rustenburg SA - Group C of the World Cup got underway tonight when the United States took on perennial under achievers England.

The game finished 1-1 in what was an anti-climax to a much anticipated game.

One of the few positives to come out of the game for England - who were coasting until a horrible error form 'keeper Rob Green - was the performance of striker Emile Heskey.

Heskey is often criticised for his lack of goals, but he has much more to his game than that.

Out of form with his club Aston Villa, Heskey was somewhat of a controversial selection in the England squad. Many believing that Sunderland's Darren Bent deserved the chance, after a superb season in the Premier League.

But it seems that the 32-year-old is a favourite of manager Fabio Capello, and on tonight's performance you can see why.

The physical Heskey won flick on after flick on throughout the game, but it was his possession and distribution that were the most impressive.

On countless occasions he brought the ball down, tucked it in and tried to release a team-mate, and this is what he brings to the team. The ability to bring others into play.

The likes of Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard and in-particular Steven Gerrard must love playing with the big forward.

There is an understanding between him and Gerrard, an alliegance obviously forged during their time at Liverpool together.

As we've said he may not have a great goal-ratio, but Heskey was earning his 60th cap for his country tonight, and appearing in his second World Cup.

Not bad for a forward who is so often lambasted by the media when playing for his country.

Okay, he has not always been in great form for England, but there times - usually big tournaments or important qualifiers - were England managers look to him, he will always provide the gel to bond the likes of Gerrard and Rooney.

The next question is will he play against the weaker sides in the group?

With the return of Gareth Barry expected for Friday's game against Algeria, he may find himself on the banch, as we could see Gerrard pushed further forward to play off Rooney, so Barry can take his place in midfield.

Capello may also look at bringing in either Peter Crouch or Jermain Defoe as a replacement for Heskey, they both have greater goal-scoring traits.

But if England progress and meet the likes of Germany in the knockout stages, do not be surprised or disappointed to see Heskey recalled.

He is one of England's big game players, and could be one of the most vital cogs in this well oiled machine.