Thoughts On Michael Owen: My Story.

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In case you haven’t noticed (or you’re new to this blog), I am and forever will be a Michael Owen fan. Let’s just get that out of the way already.

Despite having read his autobiography Off The Record, I’m still very much interested in anything Owen-related, so of course it was a much pleasant surprise when I found out that LFC TV has produced an interview/documentary entitled Michael Owen: My Story. It’s about time!

It was not easy for me as an overseas fan with no access to LFC TV content to see it, but I finally got hold of it from a fellow LFC fan who kindly uploaded it for me (you know who you are and you’re awesome!).

So where do I even begin?

What stands out about Michael Owen was just how confident he was (and still is, I suppose) about his talents and abilities not just as a football player but as a person. Money, image, fame and the like never factored into his journey—for him it was all about playing football and scoring goals. That clinical, almost single-minded approach earned him equal parts admiration and critique. But really, that’s just the way he was as a player, and I’m glad that up to now he stays true to himself and makes no apologies for it.

The first half discussed his humble beginnings, his meteoric rise to the Liverpool and England Senior Squad, as well as that extraordinary 2001 Treble Year that he was part of. It was amusing how even winning the European Football Player of the Year 2001 wasn’t that much of a big deal to him (at that time), and the gravity of it only sank into him a few years later. Seeing snippets of his goals as a Liverpool player made me feel as if I’m a teenager again, and that nothing mattered but the beautiful game that is Football.

To be honest, most of it was perfectly straightforward, nothing that a longtime Liverpool or Owen fan doesn’t already know, and although ex-teammates were mentioned in passing, only Carra’s name cropped up a lot. I know Michael and Jamie are still good mates until this very day, but what I really wanted the interviewer to touch on is how Michael and Steven Gerrard’s relationship are these days. I know Stevie wasn’t particularly happy when Michael signed for rivals Manchester United, and although they have crossed paths a number of times in Anfield, I have not heard of them interacting together like the old friends they once were. Am I being paranoid or are my suspicions valid? Anyway, the Owen-Gerrard rift (or lack thereof) shall have to remain a mystery for now.

And then things got really interesting.

“…Liverpool is in my heart…”

So that move to Real Madrid was finally brought up: Ten years may have passed (dear me, has it really been that long?!) but I still feel a knot in my stomach every time he talks about it.

And boy, did he talk about it. For the first time in years, the usually calm Owen surprisingly displayed a bevy of emotions as he discussed leaving Liverpool for Real Madrid, being denied a return by Newcastle and then making the decision to play for blood rivals Manchester United.

He still looks visibly hurt when he talked about being twice denied the opportunity to return to Liverpool, which he fondly called “his first love”, as well as being booed on his Anfield return and the strain in his relationship with some LFC fans. I just wanted to reach out and hug the screen because he sure looked like he needed a big one. (cue Take That’s “Back For Good”)

Saint Michael, The Wonderboy: He is human, after all. You never really forget or get over your first love.

The atmosphere was mostly relaxed, there was never a hint of sensationalism nor forced controversy. Overall, it was candid, earnest, at times heartbreaking and bittersweet.

Haters: All your arguments have been proven invalid.

Although some questions have been answered, I still have a hundred more unanswered ones. I’m still hoping that at some point in time, Michael will update his autobiography one more time to expound on his adventures. I feel like he has so much more to say. Forty-six minutes just weren’t enough—I want more of that emotionally-charged last 10 (or so) minutes!

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Haven’t seen it yet? Click HERE to view the complete interview online.

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Limerick no.13: The “Spoiled” vs The “Brat”.

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There once were teammates called ROS and HAM

In Spa, got entangled in an on-track jam.

Lew called foul, said Nico’s move was deliberate,

Fandemonium followed, as the mob took the bait.

Mercedes fumbled and struggled with this comical sham.

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Bouncebackable Footballer: Xabi Alonso.

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The Midfield Maestro. The Long Ranger. Flawless GQMF.

It is with equal parts shame and pride that I’ll confess to not liking him when news first broke of his move to Liverpool from Real Sociedad in 2004. Firstly, he was one-half of the Spanish twosome (the other being Luis Garcia) whose purchase was partly-funded by the money Real Madrid CF paid Liverpool FC for the sale of Michael Owen, and since my “I’ve-just-lost-my-favourite-footballer-to-another-club” wound was still so raw that it was seriously impairing my ability to think clearly, it was with near-complete disdain that I assessed his arrival. Secondly, he was handed the number 14 shirt, which was then an empty number for several years, and since it’s my favourite number, my line of thinking was that even a football demigod wouldn’t be deemed worthy to have that number on their back (real mature of me, I know). I immediately decided that I was not going to like this Spaniard–Ever.

However, Alonso proceeded to prove me wrong on every account of my rather-superficial and highly-irrational disdain for him with every single match that he played, with every single pass he completed. The fluidity of his passing and sheer awareness of the game made me appreciate the midfield wars and tactics as much as I anticipate the elusive attacking breakaways. I consider him as one of the most clever and intelligent footballers out there–he’s calm in the face of a storm, confident without being arrogant and a natural leader without being an usurper. Far from being a flashy player, he still ends up as one of the most powerful and influential players in any match when he is at his absolute best. From club football to international football, his sheer class shines through. Eminence grise, indeed.

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Bossing the Liverpool Midfield.

Even though he resisted the overtures of Juventus, when Real Madrid came a-calling, it was an offer he could not refuse, and when he left Anfield to come back to the Spanish La Liga to join Los Blancos, I felt a deep and immeasurable sadness stemming from the knowledge that Liverpool FC will never be the same again.

This year though has brought about a double whammy: His time in the International stage and in La Liga has come to a close. True, he will still be very much visible in club football terms as he is now part of the German Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich, but now that he has vacated the number 14 La Roja and Real Madrid shirts, the hole that was left is truly a Herculean task to fulfill.

And so in the end, I was (partly) right—in my eyes, no one can possibly wear the number 14 shirt of Liverpool FC (and La Roja) ever again and be really, truly, categorically worthy of it. It’s just not possible. Xabi Alonso set the bar far too high.

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