‘He wanted us to REFUSE to play for England to support Rio’: Emile Heskey reveals it was ‘like the Gary Neville Show’ at Euro 2004 during fall-out from Ferdinand’s ban for missing a drugs test
- Ex-defender Gary Neville urged England side to go on strike before Euro 2004
- After Rio Ferdinand was slapped with eight-month ban for missing a drugs test
- That’s the claim from fellow Three Lions star Emile Heskey in new autobiography
- In the book, it is claimed Neville encouraged squad to ‘refuse to play’ for England
That’s the claim from fellow Three Lions star Emile Heskey in his new autobiography, who said it was ‘like the Gary Neville Show’ in the international camp during the fall-out from Ferdinand’s punishment.
Neville, 44, was the assistant manager of England from 2012 to 2016 under Roy Hodgson and as a player he won 85 caps for the national side.
Emile Heskey (L) reveals it was ‘like the Gary Neville Show’ in England camp before Euro 2004
Neville urged England players to go on strike before tournament after Rio Ferdinand (L) was slapped with an eight-month ban for missing a drugs test, claims Heskey in new autobiography
Ferdinand was banned from playing for his country and club due to missing a drugs test
In Even Heskey Scored, it is claimed that Neville encouraged the squad to ‘refuse to play’ for England because of Ferdinand’s ban
But in new book Even Heskey Scored, it is claimed that Neville encouraged the squad to ‘refuse to play’ for their country because of Ferdinand’s ban.
Heskey, 41, said: ‘Gary Neville, who was the self-appointed union representative for us, I guess, urged us all to refuse to play for England to support Rio.
‘I got on well with Gary. I wasn’t close with him, but he was a good speaker and he wanted the best for us all. He could be a bit of a busy b*****d, as people tend to say in football, but I didn’t mind that.
‘I was still a young player in the squad and I just nodded my head and was happy to go along with whatever the rest of the group wanted. Gary kept pushing us all not to play and I think people didn’t feel completely comfortable about it.
‘Everyone liked Rio, but everyone wanted to play. It was a little bit like the Gary Neville Show, and I guess if Rio had asked us to back him, we would have, without all the threats.’
News of Rio’s ban came after England’s final group game away to Turkey where they needed a draw to qualify for Euro 2004 – and ground out a 0-0 draw in a hot-tempered match remembered for a brawl in the players’ tunnel at half-time.
Neville himself then went on to play in the tournament in Portugal, which saw England put out by the hosts in the quarter-finals.
Neville was fully behind his Manchester United and England team-mate during his supsension
Heskey said: ‘I got on well with Gary. He was a good speaker and he wanted the best for us all’