Michael Owen admits he can understand why some Liverpool fans no longer like him following his time playing for Manchester United, but says he chose a move to Old Trafford as his only other option was joining Everton.
The former England international joined the Red Devils following Newcastle's relegation from the Premier League in 2009, which prompted his relationship with Liverpool supporters to sour.
Owen scored 158 goals in 297 appearances for Liverpool, but his distinguished service for the club was not enough to save the striker from the ire of some fans after he secured a move to their most bitter of rivals.
And, while Owen understands why is no longer looked upon favourably, the recently retired 33-year-old claims he chose a move to Manchester United as the only other feasible option would have been to move to the blue half of Merseyside.
“If one of my heroes was going to a team which I didn’t support I wouldn’t like it,” he told the Liverpool ECHO.
“Listen, I can understand that. If I was a fan, which I once was, I would feel the same, but you have to be grown up about it.
“As a player you only have one career. I have always signed for the best team possible who was in for me at that time.
“If I hadn’t have signed for Man United, the other option at that time was Everton and I don’t think a lot of Liverpool fans would have been happy if I had gone there either.
“If I had turned down both United and Everton I’d have probably ended up playing in the Championship.
“Anyone with any nous or normality about them realises that you only get one shot at it. You have got to do what’s best for your career and to play at the highest level.
“If you wanted to be funny about it you could say ‘well, if I couldn’t play for Liverpool should I just have cancelled my career at 29 when I left Newcastle?’.
“There are two types of fan. Some can see nothing else but their club which is fair enough. But I think the majority of people at Anfield realise it’s not like I did anything for the wrong reasons."
Now that his playing days are over, Owen hopes he will be able to mend his relationship with Kopites, and hopes he will always be associated with Liverpool more than any other club.
“I played for Liverpool from the tender age of 11 with Stevie Gerrard. Liverpool is in my blood and I want to see them do well," he added.
“I’ve been back to Anfield a couple of times already this season and the reception I’ve had has been great.”
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