Michael Owen’s straight-laced style has seen his commentary pilloried over the years.
That deadpan speaking was appropriate for his thoughts on his injury-ravaged career though, as his candid segment on BT Sport last night received almost widespread praise.
A young phenom, Owen starred at the 1998 World Cup for England, and was a prolific goalscorer thanks to his finishing and pace. A hamstring injury at just 19 years of age heralded a litany of injuries, however.
“Once I did it once I was gone really,” Owen admitted.
“I was quick, running in channels, beating people. That’s who I was – compared to the last six or so years when I turned into the only thing I could.
“I was petrified of running into a channel. I just knew I was going to tear a muscle. The worst thing about it is your instinct is to do what you have done all your life but you start thinking: ‘Oh no, don’t.'”
But it was his comments about the tail-end of his career that caught the attention of Alan Shearer.
“For six or seven years I hated it. I couldn’t wait to retire. I considered it loads of times.
“It wasn’t me. All I was doing is coming short, linking play and getting in the box. It ended up with people thinking I was a great goalscorer who didn’t do much else. Mentally I could do it, but physically I couldn’t.”
Some of that nightmare period was spent at Newcastle. Club legend Alan Shearer became caretaker manager in April of 2009 in the midst of a relegation battle, and Owen didn’t endear himself to his counterpart with the retirement admission.
“Not sure @nufc fans, teammates or employers will want to thank him,” Shearer wrote on Twitter.
— Alan Shearer (@alanshearer) August 26, 2018
A passage from the 2017 book of former Magpies physio Paul Ferris was then discussed elsewhere, wherein Ferris recounts how Owen allegedly refused to play in the penultimate game of the season in case he got injured and was unable to secure a contract elsewhere.
Newcastle were relegated that season.
Least they try..not feign injury when captain of team that were in a relegation battle(and went down) pic.twitter.com/ZxIpLgyYsD
— Cathal Sweeney (@Cathal_Sweeney9) August 26, 2018
There is still a debate to be had, with some understanding the striker’s decisions regarding his various injuries.
His goal record per game was still good for Newcastle. Clubs undertake medicals to ensure they know the risks.
Didn't you play after serious injury and find that you were not at same standard & retire early? pic.twitter.com/ZLgZA3eoSM
— Bonsey (@1BonZ) August 26, 2018