Former England international Michael Owen upset a lot of Liverpool supporters when he joined Manchester United in 2009, even though they all would’ve accepted that the striker was years past his best before date.
Before that he became a legend at Liverpool after bursting onto the scene as an 18-year-old, but joining United years later destroyed his reputation with Scousers and it’s something he has found difficult to come to terms with.
Even if Owen pretends it was a disaster, it wasn’t.
He never won the Premier League until he joined United — so, when they have their annual tea parties, I’m sure the thought of a winners’ league medal makes Owen smile while Steven Gerrard jumps two-footed into a tantrum.
Good vibes, eh?
“Crying in the players’ lounge and hoping nobody sees. It has been torture for a long time.
“It is like splitting up with your wife. I can only blame myself, I said yes to Real Madrid. I still love Liverpool. Different to [Carragher], you are still at the club being idolised. I was you.
“And yet there is a polarised opinion because of me thinking I will go away fro a year and all of a sudden it is all ruined.
“If I am walking along the Kop, they’re saying ‘you Manc’ or whatever and I have got to live with that. It has killed me for ages and the wound will never go.”
In his book ‘Reboot’, Owen hit back at the abuse he takes from football fans online and defended his role as a Liverpool ambassador (a role which we’re not sure he still holds because he doesn’t do anything due to the backlash it would bring).
Owen wrote: “I’ve never been one of those guys who you’d see hanging around their former club, wearing club gear, doing nothing in particular other than just being seen there. I see guys like that – lads I played with and against – doing that at clubs all over the land.
“You wouldn’t see a guy like Paul Scholes, Steven Gerrard or Jamie Carragher ever doing that and I wouldn’t dream of doing it either. It looks desperate. It makes me cringe.
“Yes, a football club was once my place of work. But when I left, that contact was broken. I can’t then become a fan – a hanger-on, standing around to remind anyone who might be looking that I once played there. I’m secure enough with my legacy and contributions that I don’t need to.
“Unless I’m contracted to perform some kind of ambassadorial duty that requires me to be at a club, I’d be mortified to be seen there. I don’t know why this is, but I’m actually proud to feel this way. The same applies to asking favours from former clubs. As much as I played for Manchester United and Real Madrid, I wouldn’t dream of phoning them up to look for a couple of match tickets.
“I suspect they’d have no problem with it if I did, but I’d never dream of doing it. I’m like my dad Terry in that sense. I respect myself, and the clubs, too much to go cap in hand for anything for free. Again, I’d be embarrassed. Yet, I see ex-pros doing it all the time.
“Liverpool is a slightly different situation in that, along with a number of other ex-players, I have an ambassadorial role there. I’m not in there all the time – far from it. But I do my bit.
“Not surprisingly, I get a huge amount of abuse from what I suspect is a minority of Liverpool fans who think that, because I played for a rival club, I shouldn’t even be a Liverpool ambassador in the first place!
“That, I’m afraid, is fan-centric nonsense. Not just that, when I trawl through my memory banks, recounting all the great moments I enjoyed with the fans and my fellow players, these opinions sting. My record at Liverpool is a good one. I won trophies there, scored goals, won two Golden Boots there and lifted the Ballon d’Or. I played for the club on two hundred and ninety seven occasions. I went in where it hurts for the club on countless more instances.
“How does playing for a rival club negate any of that? It doesn’t. To think that way is just delusional. And even worse, while fans are happy to question my credentials, you’ve got guys hanging around.
“Liverpool and every other club, with fancy titles, wearing tracksuits, being ambassadors, who played there for one season, didn’t do much for the club and kicked a ball for two minutes while they were at it! It’s all such nonsense – and fans sometimes need to stop and have a long hard think about how some of their opinions are so contradictory. Worth adding too is that these opinions only ever seem to surface on the Internet!
“In my daily life, I don’t shy away from going anywhere. I go to restaurants, pubs, racecourses, football grounds – I have done so for years and I’ll continue to. I can count on one hand the number of times that anyone has come up to me and given me a hard time about whatever football clubs I’ve played for, or been abusive about so-called loyalty, or challenged my views on this or that.
“In the real world it doesn’t happen. On the Internet however, it’s a total free-for-all.”
At least he won the Premier League for his troubles!