Michael Owen has explained why England's Golden Generation failed

Leaders Sport Performance Summit - Day One

For the first time in a long time, there is genuine optimism surrounding England's World Cup prospects.

That fervour may have been dampened a little in the wake of the Three Lions' 1-0 defeat to Belgium, but Gareth Southgate has renewed a sense of pride in the national team nevertheless.

The country is still suffering from a collective hangover of the disappointments of the Golden Generation and ahead of the last-16 tie against Colombia on Tuesday, Michael Owen has been speaking of the differences between the current set-up and the England team he was part of.

The former striker scored 40 goals in 89 appearances at international level but didn't have the best of luck at major tournaments.

In 2002, he tore a hamstring against Denmark and limped through the quarter-final defeat to Brazil looking way under-par.

Four years later, he flew home from Germany with a torn anterior cruciate ligament suffered against Sweden.

Sadly, that was just the story of his career, but he admits his main regrets stem from the fact that England's Golden Generation never delivered because of the system they played.

Where it all went wrong 

Writing in the Daily Mail, the 38-year-old explained:

"I look back on my time with England with so many regrets. Many of my team-mates do as well.

"Primarily that centres around the system we played. We were made for 3-5-2, with David Beckham and Ashley Cole as wing-backs.

"Now I'm watching a team play that system...Watching England play has been a chore, pretty much an unenjoyable duty for years.

"I would include in that much of the time I played for them, even though, at the time, you don't realise it...But we played a system that never allowed us to thrive."

English forward Michael Owen is treated

The furthest the so-called 'Golden Generation' ever got was a World Cup quarter-final, despite boasting the likes of Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, and Wayne Rooney in their ranks.

However, Owen insists that is precisely the point:

"If ever there was a case for football being about systems and not players, it was the England team between 2000 and 2006," he added.

"With a different system you would have seen a different type of performance. We were playing as though we were shackled. But at least we had the tension of quarter-final shootouts.

"Since 2006, England have been painful to watch. It's been laborious football and no joy to it. Suddenly there is hope."

Why do you think the Golden Generation didn't deliver? Have your say in the comments. 

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