There’s no doubt that Michael Owen was an incredible footballer – but he’s also someone who, it’s fair to say, divides opinion.
The former England star came through the youth ranks at Liverpool and spent the first eight years of his professional career at Anfield, scoring goals and winning trophies on a regular basis.
He even won the prestigious Ballon d’Or in 2001 after helping Liverpool win the League Cup, FA Cup, UEFA Cup and UEFA Super Cup. This was also the year that he scored a hat-trick in England’s famous 5-1 win over Germany. No other Englishman has won the Ballon d’Or since.
But in 2004 Owen decided to leave Liverpool in order to become one of Real Madrid’s Galacticos at the Bernabeu.
Who could blame him? Madrid had the world’s best players including Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane, David Beckham, Roberto Carlos, and Luis Figo. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
However, things soon began to unravel for Owen, who failed to adjust to life in Spain. He did alright on the pitch, netting 16 goals in 45 games, but Madridistas rarely saw the livewire forward at his world-class best.
To make matters worse for Owen, Liverpool went on to win the Champions League at the end of his first season away from Anfield, beating AC Milan in arguably the best final of all time.
Owen tried to his best to secure a move back to Liverpool but Newcastle United were the club who offered the most money (£16 million) to Real Madrid.
Over the course of four injury-hit years, Owen managed to score just 30 goals in 79 appearances for the Magpies. He left St James’ Park in 2009 after the north-east outfit were relegated to the Championship.
What followed next took everybody by complete surprise.
Owen, a boyhood Liverpool supporter, decided to join the Reds’ fiercest rivals, Manchester United.
Sir Alex Ferguson even handed the striker the club’s famous No. 7 shirt following Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure.
As soon as he signed on the dotted line for United, Owen’s legacy in the eyes of Liverpool’s supporters was irreversibly tarnished.
Did the gamble pay off for Owen? Well, it did in the sense that he won his one and only Premier League winners’ medal with Man Utd.
But whether the medal was worth tarnishing his reputation with the supporters of Liverpool, the club of his heart, is a question only he can answer.
What did Michael Owen say after winning PL with Man Utd?
All these years later and Owen’s decision to join Man Utd continues to amaze football fans.
Furthermore, they can’t get over a comment he made during his post-match interview after winning the league with United in 2011.
The MUTV interviewer said to Owen: “You’re wearing a Premier League winners’ medal at last. How does it feel?”
He replied: “Yeah, well as they say: if you can’t beat them, join them.”
Watch the clip here:
Let’s check out some of the reaction:
Owen left Old Trafford in 2012 and spent one disappointing season with Stoke City before announcing his retirement aged just 33.
He finds himself in a curious situation where all of his previous clubs have mixed feelings about him.
Owen announced as Liverpool ambassador in 2016
Liverpool’s decision to announce Owen as the club’s first international ambassador went down very badly with fans in 2016.
He was even booed by the Anfield faithful when he appeared in a charity match three years later.
While the animosity may have eased up slightly in recent years, many Liverpool fans will never forgive his decision to sign for their arch-rivals.