Emile Heskey to play in Australia's A-League

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SYDNEY (AP) -Former Aston Villa and England striker Emile Heskey has signed with the Newcastle Jets in Australia's A-League.

Newcastle on Friday confirmed that it had signed the 34-year-old Heskey for the 2012-2013 season which begins in October. Heskey's move to Australia follows that of former Italy and Juventus star Alessandro Del Piero, who has joined Sydney FC for a reported $4 million over two years.

Newcastle chief executive Robbie Middleby said "to secure the signature of Emile is a fantastic result for the Jets and for the A-League."

Heskey scored 110 goals in 516 Premier League appearances in a 17-year career. He played more than 150 matches for Liverpool from 2000 to 2004 and was capped 62 times by England.

"Emile has played our game at the highest level in England, both internationally and domestically, and he finished last season playing with Aston Villa in the English Premier League," Middleby said.

"We are aware that Emile had other offers but he is genuinely excited to be a part of what we want to achieve at the Jets.

"Emile's relationship with former English Premier League players Michael Bridges and Robbie Fowler (who have both played in Australia) assisted him in understanding what the A-League has to offer."

Newcastle coach Gary van Egmond said Heskey would bring "unbelievable experience" to the Jets and the league.

"His effectiveness in being able to hold the ball up and invite other players to play off him is going to be a big benefit to us," van Egmond said. "He's someone who can really lead the line and is exactly what we've been missing."

Heskey played 28 times for Aston Villa last season and made more than 90 Premier League appearances for the club he joined from Wigan Athletic in 2009.

He scored 22 goals in all competitions for Liverpool when it won the FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Cup treble in 2000-2001 and scored seven times for England.

Heskey played at two World Cups, appearing in every match in England's 2010 World Cup campaign in South Africa.

"This is an exciting new period in my life and I am looking forward to making a special contribution to the A-League and most importantly to the Jets," he said in a statement. "I hope I can help grow football at the grassroots level and also provide advice to young players at the Jets."

Jets striker Bridges, who played against Heskey while at Leeds United, said the Englishman was a "tremendous signing."

"He's just left Aston Villa where he was playing in the Premier League last season and that says a lot about his quality," Bridges said. "It's a massive coup for the club to bring someone of his stature to Newcastle.

"He's a big target man who is a powerhouse, a work horse and can lead the forward line. If you look at his strike partners at the teams he's played with, they've all been goal-scoring machines because of his work rate and supply."

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