SINGAPORE - Former Leicester City striker Emile Heskey thinks that the club's recent and sudden turn in form reveals that the players were not giving 100 per cent when Claudio Ranieri was still in charge.
The 39-year-old former England international, who started his career with the Foxes in 1995 and won two League Cups before moving the Liverpool in 2000, said: "The players' image has tarnished a little bit. Because they've gone on (after Ranieri's sacking) to win three consecutive games. It makes them look in a sort of (bad) light.
"Why has their performance picked up? People can say now that they were unwilling to play (at their best level). When I was a player, I would always come off the pitch to ask myself if I had given 100 per cent, though I wouldn't say that happened all the time.
"So the players have to ask themselves, this season, have they given 100 per cent to play for their manager?
"Inevitably, the captain of a ship will always take the fall, and I think he (Ranieri) is made a scapegoat, and the players hid behind that."
Heskey was speaking on Wednesday (March 15) at the sidelines of the launch of JSSL International 7s at The Arena at Woodleigh Park.
The youth football tournament held from April 29-May 1 and will feature 260 teams from 14 countries.
Since Ranieri was sacked on Feb 23, Leicester have gone on a three-game winning run, beating Liverpool 3-1, Hull City 3-1 in the English Premier League and Sevilla (2-0 on Tuesday night) to progress to the Champions League quarter-final for the first time.
But a poor season by the reigning EPL champions have left them in danger struggling near the foot of the league. They are 15th in the standings and just three points out of the relegation zone.