• June 20, 2021

Exclusive: ‘Can’t compare’ England’s Golden Generation to Gareth Southgate’s squad who have ‘less pressure’ at Euro 2020, says Emile Heskey

 Exclusive: ‘Can’t compare’ England’s Golden Generation to Gareth Southgate’s squad who have ‘less pressure’ at Euro 2020, says Emile Heskey


The so-called ‘Golden Generation’ of England players gets talked about a lot with comparisons starting to be drawn to the current crop of talent emerging.

But Emile Heskey believes you cannot compare the two and there is far less expectation of those players about to head into Euro 2020.

England in the 2000s consistently underperformed at major tournaments

England in the 2000s consistently underperformed at major tournaments

England are preparing for the delayed tournament, which begins next week – and you can listen to every game live across the talkSPORT network.

Gareth Southgate has a wealth of talent at his disposal and had to leave some excellent players out of his final 26-man squad.

The squad comprises of league and Champions League winners, just like the players of Heskey’s era, but the former Liverpool striker doesn’t think comparisons can be made.

“I don’t think you can compare. It’s totally different eras,” Heskey told Weekend Sports Breakfast. “When you are looking at the football that is played now and the way we approached things was totally different.

England’s current crop of players have plenty of exciting talents for now and the future

Getty

England’s current crop of players have plenty of exciting talents for now and the future

“I spoke to a lot of ex-players and they are a lot more athletic and agile than we were back then. We were probably adaptable as well, so you couldn’t say we wouldn’t have matched them. 

“It just wasn’t there at the time. I don’t think we can compare it like that. They’ve got a lot of pressure on them as well.

“As England fans, we say ‘they can go and do what they want, we’re not putting pressure on them and we don’t expect them to do anything’, but we do expect them to.

“We do expect them to get to the final and we do expect them to beat Croatia and we do expect them to beat everyone on the way to the final.”

Bukayo Saka and Jude Bellingham could play key roles this summer, despite still being teenagers

Getty

Bukayo Saka and Jude Bellingham could play key roles this summer, despite still being teenagers

The bookies have made England one of the favourites to win Euro 2020, but Heskey feels the pressure on Southgate’s side is not the same as it has been in previous tournaments.

“Our times were a little bit different, it was said we were going to win it and a lot of pressure was put on us,” Heskey added.

“We had players like Stevie (Gerrard), Becks (David Beckham), Scholesy (Paul Scholes), who were winning leagues and Champions Leagues and it was expected that we had to go out there and come back with a trophy.

“The expectation is not quite there and they can actually go out and relax and play some really exciting football as we’ve got some fantastic players.

“They can just go out there and express themselves.”

There is plenty of debate raging about the injured players in Southgate’s squad with Jordan Henderson and Harry Maguire going into the tournament not fully fit.

Heskey feels like it is a habit of England managers to pick injured players for tournaments.

All eyes were on Beckham and his injured metatarsal going into the 2002 World Cup

All eyes were on Beckham and his injured metatarsal going into the 2002 World Cup

He said: “This is something that has been going on for a while. I played in a team where we took an injured David Beckham to a tournament (the 2002 World Cup).

“He was our talisman, our leader, so when you’re working with a squad for so long and you look at someone and you think they mean so much to the squad, you are going to give them the longest opportunity to get themselves in the right place.”





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