Michael Owen has admitted that his persistent injury woes left him petrified to play football and left him waiting for his retirement.
Owen burst onto the scene at Liverpool as a blisteringly quick 17-year-old, scoring that goal for England aged just 18 against Argentina at the 1998 World Cup in France.
However, despite scoring 262 goals for both club and country in his career, he was hampered with a number of injuries which began when he tore his hamstring aged 19, leading to five months out and forcing him to change his game forever:
“Once I did it once I was gone really,” Owen, 38, told BT Sport.
“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.'”
He added that his persistent injury problems left him looking forward to the day he was able to retire:
“For six or seven years I hated it,” he added. “I couldn’t wait to retire.
“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.”
“I admire people who can play for the love of the game. They may lose a yard of pace and they can go down a division or play against lesser teams – but, for me, it was turmoil.”