Michael Owen: I’m Not Finished Yet


Michael Owen has insisted that he remains “100 per cent” as good a player as the night he scored his famous hat-trick against Germany eight years ago.

In a candid interview with The Times, the striker talks about his resurgence at Manchester United and his hopes of playing for England at next summer’s World Cup finals, despite his exile under Fabio Capello.

Owen has not represented his country since March last year, his solitary cap under the Italian. But he claims that he is still the player who scored a hat-trick in Munich and goals in the 2002 World Cup finals and Euro 2004.

“I am not slower now than I was seven, eight years ago. No chance,” said Owen, who would love the chance to score in front of Capello when United play Wolfsburg in the Champions League at Old Trafford tonight.

“With the hamstring problems early in my career, they knocked a yard off my pace straightaway, but since then I have been the same player and if anything I have improved.

“Game awareness is a good word for it. A lot of it is so instinctive it’s hard to put down. It is your experience taking you into areas. You think, ‘Would I have moved there as a kid, would I have anticipated that?’

“People think I’m past my thirties, I’m in my forties, the way they talk about me. I’m only 29. I’m not past it.

“It’s not an easy squad to get into with the results the team are getting at the minute. But I’m as passionate as ever about extending my time with England.”

The problem for Owen, which is likely to be the case this evening, is getting enough time on the pitch to impress Capello.

The likelihood remains that he will not have played enough games to force his way back into the squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Ukraine and Belarus next month, when Capello is determined to pick his strongest squad even though England have already qualified for South Africa.

Even beyond Jermain Defoe in the main squad there is competition from Gabriel Agbonlahor and Darren Bent, but Owen just hopes that Capello will judge him with a fresh eye after his wretched time at Newcastle United.

“He came to Highbury to watch us one time — I think I had five touches in the game,” Owen said. “Then, I was coming back from injury. So there are reasons why he wouldn’t pick me so far. Yes, I have to play a bit more. I am sure with the number of games we have got, so many cup competitions, I will start my fair share.

“Capello has never talked to me about the situation. I met him after the Community Shield. I was getting on to the coach. He was coming down to get in his car to leave. He was there with Franco Baldini.

“Franco saw me and gave me the thumbs up. I walked over and shook both of their hands. Franco said, ‘How are you? Are you feeling fit?’ I said, ‘Yeah, yeah, I’m feeling fine.’ ‘Good luck, we’ll keep watching you.’ That’s the only contact.

“The first time was the hardest, the second time was the second hardest, the third time . . . it is still hard. It has probably caused a stir because it used to be as soon as I was fit, I was back in. Now it’s not like I have dropped down a step but fallen off the map.”

Only Capello knows if there is any hope of Owen adding to his 40 goals in 89 England appearances.


~ by footballdirecta on September 30, 2009.

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