The ex-England and Liverpool legend, 44, on improving young people’s digital education, and why David Beckham ‘was more tech-savvy than a lot of us.’
Would you call yourself a tech fan?
I try. The funny thing is, if someone shows me something, I’m more than happy to use it and explore.
But if I’m the one that has to figure something out… nah.
What kind of tech helped you through lockdown?
I’ve got four kids who were all home-schooling at one stage. They were lucky enough to have a couple of iPads and a laptop but not everybody can have access to that.
That’s why what LG is doing, by having a Laptop Library that children are allowed to use, is fantastic — especially now, with the technology we’re using and where everything’s going.
It’s important children have access to things like this. When I went to visit a school where they launched the library, it was fascinating how much the children knew about all this.
They were asking about Intel this and that and I hadn’t got a clue. But they knew everything and were very excited about these laptops.
What kind of tech did you have at that age?
A typewriter! I was born in 1978 so at school we never had things like that.
I didn’t really have access to much technology when I was young, it wasn’t until I was much older — that was when technology started to really take off.
My first mobile phone was a thin Motorola that flipped down with an aerial that came out [the StarTAC].
Then it got a bit jazzier when you had the Banana Nokia 8110 that slid down. But it was just for making calls and receiving texts back then.
Who was the most tech-savvy player you shared a dressing room with?
I remember when the first ever iPod came out I hadn’t got a clue what it was. I saw David Beckham had it.
He was telling me how it does this and how it does that. I was used to having CDs and now there was this thing with all your tunes on.
I just didn’t get it but now look! Becks was more tech-savvy than a lot of us.
Is there anything you really hate about technology?
Not really. It helps my memory to try and remember every password that I put into different things. I think I’ve got about eight.
The funny thing is, I don’t actually know my passwords as such, it’s more muscle memory. I kind of remember my passwords by where my fingers go.
How do you feel about VAR in football?
We begged for something like this for years so we can’t just get rid of it because of a few teething problems.
There’s always going to be a progression, and it’s always going to get better and better, and I think it is getting better.
We’re spending less time talking about it and more time praising it. You’ve just got to tweak things every now and again.
I think it’s here to stay but it needs to be tweaked so there’s less time between the stopping and starting.
There are a lot of stats in football now. How would you have fared with that?
We were using stats back then but not to the same extent so it’s nothing new as such, it’s just that the level of detail now has got a lot higher.
It’s used differently. Inevitably your eye will tell you certain things anyway.
You only use the stats to back it up or it might tell you to look at it a particular way.
I probably wouldn’t have been top of many stats tables because I was a forward.
The midfielders should be top when it comes to running and stuff like that.
I remember playing for the national team and one of the coaches said I kept the ball 90% of the time when it came in to me, and I just went, ‘OK.’ I think he thought I’d think it was fantastic but ain’t that what I’m supposed to do?
Heskey worked with LG Electronics on its Laptop Library, helping to improve young people’s digital education