Leicester’s new women’s football development manager Emile Heskey has said the club hope to follow Chelsea’s lead and become one of the biggest teams in the Women’s Super League (WSL).
Leicester’s trip to Kingsmeadow to face champions Chelsea – live on Sky Sports on Sunday – will only be their fifth game as a top-level team following their promotion to the women’s league last season.
In contrast, their Sunday opponents are four-time WSL champions and finalists last season in the Women’s Champions League.
Heskey – who was appointed to his new post last week – says Leicester aspires to rise to the level of Chelsea, although he has also urged patience in what is only the team’s second season in as professionals.
In an exclusive interview with Air sports, he called Chelsea a “big club”, adding: “[They’ve] really supported their women’s football.
“I have a fantastic manager, great players. [That] that’s where you want to be, but they’ve been doing it for 10, 12 years.
“This is our second professional year so we are building, and the club supporting us in this way is great.”
Leicester enter the game against Chelsea – who sit third in the WSL – still chasing their first win after starting the season with four straight losses.
But Heskey says their struggles at the start of the season were to be expected and believes their first WSL victory is only a matter of time.
“They are very close to getting that first victory, and it will only build confidence,” he said. “The girls have been fantastic.
“We knew it would be a huge step forward, and the manager knew it. But we played well.
“This first result will be brilliant for us and will only be the stepping stone to move towards bigger and better things.”
Part of Heskey’s job is overseeing the performance of the women’s team, as well as being responsible for coaching and recruiting.
Her appointment fills the void left by former head of women’s football Russ Fraser, who has joined Liverpool Women as the new director of football.
Former Leicester striker Heskey started his professional career with the Foxes before moving to Liverpool in 2000, and he praised the club for their commitment to their women’s side.
He said: “Even though it wasn’t me running everything, they made a commitment. I think the club have been fantastic, really supporting it.
“It’s Leicester City, it’s not men and women. We want it to be the same and it’s something the club have said time and time again.
“I have a connection with the men’s team and a lot of people have still been there since I played, so I know a lot of those people.
“We’re going to tap into the resources on the men’s side. You’re looking at recruiting and all these best practices – they’ve known that for years. Their recruiting has been fantastic, so we can leverage that. I’ll ‘this will be the bridge.”
Heskey rejoined his role as head of football development after 12 months as an ambassador to the women’s team, making him one of the only blacks to hold a managerial position in English football.
The 43-year-old hopes he can lead the way for others, saying: “You have people like Les Ferdinand (QPR football director) and people aspire to be like him.
“Can I be next? I hope so, but we have to go out of our way to be there. Les is a person I admire.”