AS Emile Heskey touched down at Sydney Airport yesterday there was a media throng and a handful of diehard fans to greet him.
The A-League’s latest high-profile import was greeted by supporters decked out in Jets shirts and a club delegation, including long-time friend, fellow-former England international and now Jets teammate Michael Bridges.
Heskey’s wife, Chantelle Tagoe and two sons, Jaden and Reigan, were also by his side as he made his way out of customs.
While it may not have been the thousands that greeted Sydney FC signing Alessandro Del Piero, there was still an air of excitement around the airport.
There was even a touch of drama to the occasion after Chantelle noticed she had left a sizeable diamond ring on the plane – after a frantic search the jewel was safely returned.
Heskey, 34, was in Newcastle by early afternoon and met with his new teammates for a photo shoot and a light training session.
He described the warm weather simply as ‘‘better than England’’.
‘‘It’s hot. When I left England it was raining,’’ he said.
As Heskey got to know his new teammates, Chantelle looked on from the stands.
The former English Premier League striker, most famous for his time at Liverpool, looked lean and fit and seemed confident of making a big impact on the field.
The Jets have a less than impressive record when it comes to import players yet the imposing figure of Heskey could be the missing link coach Gary van Egmond has been looking
His arrival also signals another bright chapter for the A-League and continues the increasing media spotlight on the sport that has often been left in the shadow of other football codes.
However, no matter what impact he makes on the playing field it is clear the striker is a bit more hesitant when it comes to entering Newcastle’s surf breaks.
‘‘I’m not keen on surfing but I’ll have a little go,’’ he said.
‘‘Why not? I’m sure a lot of them [players] do it and it’s good for core stability anyway.’’