Michael Owen admits early success wasn't a benefit
England legend admits that success didn't benefit him as a youngster
England legend Michael Owen admits that success didn't benefit him as a youngster.
The retired striker, speaking in an interview with Clare Balding on BT Sport, said that his early success with both Liverpool and England 'possibly didn't benefit me in many ways'.
In an interview transcript sent to GiveMeSport, he continued: "Getting injured and trying to hang on to the player I was for so long, it's harder mentally, when you've been to the top and you feel yourself going down, you feel yourself clinging on for dear life because in your mind you feel you are up there with the best."
Owen certainly was amongst the best strikers in Europe even before he left his teenage years, scoring 18 league goals in his first full season at Liverpool, at the age of just 18.
Owen was recognised beyond the shores of the UK when - up against players such as Raul, David Beckham, Rivaldo and Thierry Henry - he won the prestigious Ballon d'Or in 2001. The young Owen was the last English player to win the award.
However, once he had left the Anfield side, Owen's career was hampered by repeated niggling injuries. He spent a disrupted season with Real Madrid before moving to Premier League side Newcastle in 2005.
In reference to his early meteoric rise, the former player added: "In a way it would have been nice to build into being a star later on in my career but that’s how it was, how I was built, I was built to be fast, to be young, to be confident and unfortunately then I had a couple of injuries which compromised the rest my career."
Despite his injury problems, Owen was able to notch up 40 goals in 89 appearances for England, cementing his position as one of the nation's greatest ever goalscorers.
The former Manchester United player burst onto the international scene in 1998 with a goal against Argentina at the World Cup. The player picked up the ball and, with a lightening-fast run from near the half-way line, struck a thunderous ball at goal that the keeper had no chance of saving.
Balding then asked Owen about when he decided that it was the right time to hang up his boots.
"I knew for quite a while," he concluded Owen.
"But probably a few months before that and even a year before that you’re thinking is it the right time? I got to where I wanted to be as a player, I just wasn’t there long enough for my liking. Having felt what it’s like at the top and then feel yourself getting worse, it’s painful. It kills you."
Indeed, if Owen had remained injury free, there is little doubt that he would have broken many records, including the scoring record for his national side. He sits in fourth place, just nine goals off Bobby Charlton in top spot.
It has been a sad decline for Owen, one in which he was forced to adapt in an attempt to continue to play at the highest level. The niggling injuries robbed him of much of his lightening pace and he was therefore no longer able to play as a predatory 'off the shoulder' forward.
He will best be remembered as one of England's greatest ever strikers, but unfortunately also as a player who only just made it out of the 'nearly men' bracket.
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