World Cup 2010: Obituaries and Accolades Pour In For Icon Emile Heskey
Obituaries and accolades from all over the footballing world poured in for Emile Heskey on Friday as one of the sports' greatest giants of the game publicly announced his retirement in front of a predesignated collection of 152 of the world's media on Friday.
Heskey who scored 7 goals in just 62 appearances for the England national team quickly became a fan's favourite with his goalscoring antics for country.
By 19:00 GMT on Saturday, Reuters reported toy retailers had seen 250% increases in the official England Emile Heskey themed teddy bear series for girls and 800% increases in its Emile Heskey themed action figures for boys as young fans stampeded stores across the nation to mark the historical occasion with memorabilia.
Young fans had already been enamoured with such favourite phrases as "Its clob-b-bob-ering time!!" and "MUST DESTROY FOOTBALL" famously uttered by the famous figures once a string was pulled on the back. Fathers have been known to pass down the expensive figures as heirlooms.
Statistics show Heskey truly shone for country on the greatest platforms, during the course of an illustrious international career he dribbled (with the ball) an estimated seven yards and headed an estimated 1472 balls into touch according to the International Federation of Football History and Statistics.
Prime Minister David Cameron, visibly moved, has joined the overwhelming chorus in calling for a day's national mourning on Sunday, asking the country to "remember one of our great nation's greatest representatives and beacons of our values in the modern age".
Heskey was affectionately known as "The Lump" or alternatively "The Beast from the Mid-East" by millions of fans worldwide over the course of a decade. Reports of thousands of fans spontaneously starting vigils and joining 'Remember Heskey' facebook groups have emerged, many with the intent of urging their hero to come out of retirement.
Others still among 'The Heskey Horde' have also begun initiating mass wakes and public mourning.
Respected bookmakers Paddy Power and Ladbrokes have already announced in advance they will not be taking bets on England's games leading up to Euro 2012 and "for the foreseeable future" in what many now consider the end of a glorious era for English football. There are some reports, other bookmakers have even began accommodating punters taking bets on the disbanding of the English national team.
Reaction from further ashore has been more measured in their responses. Gazzetta dello Sport of Italy praised Heskey as a "the greatest gladiator," L'Equipe from France pronounced Heskey "the spirit of a generation" while simultaneously announcing Heskey had become the overwhelming favourite for its Golden Ball award. Meanwhile El Mundo of Spain acclaimed the icon's "talent, skill and absolute, complete genius".
U.S. film director Oliver Stone is reported to have already brought forward production of the long awaited Emile Heskey biopic "Making an Emile" detailing the star's humble beginnings with Leicester through to his career defining, magical match sealing goal against Kazakhstan and of course, his latest World Cup exploits, filmed in 3-D.
Just yesterday, England manager Fabio Cappello, through his 'Cappello Index' was found to have rated Heskey his clear number one performing striker is what many see as a hallmark tournament for the prolific forward.
Heskey who is widely regarded by football experts as among the finest footballers ever to grace the three Lions shirt will now be fast tracked enter the English FA Football Hall of Fame alongside such storied greats as Sir Bobby Moore, Sir Bobby Charlton, Gary Lineker, Alan Shearer, and Pat the Postman.
Contemporaries Ronaldo of Brazil and Raul of Spain highlighted the striker's "mental strenghts" and "determination to win at all costs." Italian national hero Paolo Maldini called Heskey his "strongest opponent" while older football luminaries like Pele and Alfredo Di Stefano echoed the broad media consensus that Heskey had "single-handedly revolutionised the English style".
Perhaps the the greatest accolade however goes to President of the United Groups of Heskyites (UGH), T.J Williamson who declared yesterday:
"Words cannot express the shock and disappointment of today's announced retirement from a legend in our time. Hundreds of years years from now football historians, social historians, anthropologists and intellectuals alike will mark this day as one of the defining moments of our generation. Truly the great England years of 2000-2010 will be defined by no other player, coach or manager."
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