How the former Leicester star helped Heskey fly the Foxes – after club legend Emile helped the side at the top of English football
- Leicester Women has been promoted to the Best Women’s Super League
- Jonathan Morgan’s rising side didn’t make it to the fourth rankings until 2013
- And club icon Heskey helped lead their attack to the top of the game
Morgan is a surname synonymous with fairytales in the city of Leicester, after Wes led the men’s team to the Premier League title in 2016.
But Leicester City Women have their own Morgan – an entire family even – who, along with former England striker Emile Heskey, are leading a remarkable climb to the elite.
Jonathan Morgan took charge of the team in the fourth tier in 2013 and now the club has completed their foray into the riches of the Women’s Super League and the new £ 24 million Sky TV deal. One of Morgan’s sisters, Holly, is the club captain, the other, Jade, is the general manager and their father, Rohan, is the chairman.
Leicester City Women were promoted to the best Women’s Super League earlier this month
“I came on board when my father just needed help,” says Jonathan Sportsmail‘Holly had been around since she was 10, we just wanted to keep it going. It was at the point where someone had to take over or the club would have been nothing.
‘At the time we trained in parking lots, we were changed into tin sheds, the grass was never mowed for us. Training was canceled because we did not have enough players. But as it progresses, we’ve moved up through the leagues with the same DNA. Leicester is a family club with a youth policy. ‘
The Morgan family put the team in an upward direction, but the momentum came last year when Leicester owners King Power took over the women’s team.
That was the key to taking the next step – promotion to the WSL – as was the guiding hand of former Leicester, Liverpool and Aston Villa star Heskey, who originally held an ambassador role.
Former Leicester forward Emile Heskey (left) helped Jonathan Morgan’s squad reach the top
“Fortunately, Jonno was able to coach me, it was fascinating,” says Heskey. “We come up with the philosophy and strategies and nine times out of ten we have succeeded this season.”
Make that 17 times out of 18 – the club has only lost one game in the league this season. So how can Heskey use his experience, 111 Premier League goals, 62 English caps, to coach this talented squad?
He added: ‘I love to be able to give back to football in any way. I try to show some things on which I have honed my skills, or to help them in daily life. They are the same principles that coach women to men. I used to train with them but I’m out now because I don’t want to be embarrassed anymore! ‘
With the competition in their pocket, Morgan and Heskey turned their attention to the FA Cup yesterday, hosting Liverpool in the fourth round.
Liverpool is an interesting comparison for Leicester. WSL winners in 2013 and 2014, the club were relegated to the second tier last season and off-pitch problems have hurt the team this season.
Heskey did have an ambassador role, but is now more actively involved on the coaching side
Boss Vicky Jepson left with little explanation in January, five days before their last league game with Leicester. The Foxes were the better team in the game yesterday, but struggled to beat a stubborn Liverpool. Sophie Morgan hit the bar early on, and Natasha Flint squandered a series of opportunities.
But after being so solid in the back, Liverpool eventually collapsed after 72 minutes when Flint robbed goalkeeper Rachael Laws of possession and fired Hannah Cain into an empty net. It gives Leicester a chance to test their mettle against the highest opposition in the next round, with a draw at Manchester United.
They won’t draw any major conclusions based on that match, but it should give them a realistic idea of where they stand. When asked about their goal for the coming seasons, Morgan adds: ‘We think we can go all the way. From the moment I took over I just wanted to win.
‘We are going to the WSL to win, we are not there to make up the numbers. We don’t play defensive style, we play our offensive football. Just the chance to compete among the best is great.
‘Now that we have Sky on board, it’s great to have our profiles shown there more often. We have our own five-year plan where we want to consolidate first and then compete at the highest level and reach Europe. ‘