Emile Heskey has revealed he rejected the chance to become Neil Lennon’s first signing at Hibs.
The 38-year-old played under former Leicester City team-mate Lennon at Bolton Wanderers but after his contract expired with the Lancashire club last month the former English internationalist declined an invitation to come north – as he did twice when approaches were made from Celtic.
“I took a call [about Hibs] but I am now happy to do coaching rather than playing. There was interest but for me it is the coaching side that interests me,” said Heskey, who was speaking at Celtic Park as he promoted the ‘battle of champions’ ICC trophy encounter between the Scottish title holder and English equivalents Leicester the stadium will host in five weeks.
“When I had chances to sign for Celtic I chose to stay down south with my family. The first time was when Martin O’Neill was here and even the gaffer (Neil Lennon) tried to bring me here. I took the phone call but I was quite happy being down south and being with my family. I don’t have too many regrets in my football career because I am generally happy with what I have done but it would have been nice to play here [at Celtic Park].”
Heskey maintained Lennon’s decision to return to management in the Scottish Championship fourth months after the bruising end to his season and a half with a financially-stricken Bolton was not an especially risky move. “Every job you take is a gamble,” said the former Liverpool striker. “He went to Bolton and did well then it fell away a bit. But he’s definitely good enough to get another chance. He’s a wonderful up and coming manager who has a lot to offer. Bolton won’t have harmed his reputation. Dougie Freedman was there before him and went on to do well at Forest. Not many managers see their careers go up [all the time].”