If reports are true Michael Owen was asking for $40,000 a game to come and play in the Hyundai A League. The only good news is that no one was prepared to pay that for a player who has started 4 games in the past year.
Owen, 33 was one of the most successful strikers in British football, having scored 158 goals in 297 outings for his hometown club, Liverpool. In 2001 when Liverpool won the UEFA Cup, the FA Cup and the English League cup he won the Ballon d’or as the best player in Europe. A move to Real Madrid saw him maintain his good form as he scored 13 goals in 36 games. His record for England is also impressive having scored 40 times in 89 appearances.
Yet everything has to be put into perspective. Owen has been a shadow of the young player who stunned the world at the World Cup in France in 1998 scoring a memorable goal against Argentina. Just as it was playing for the national team that made people sit up and take notice, it was playing for England that slowed his career down. At the 2006 World Cup in England’s third game against Sweden he crumpled in a heap after 51 seconds and his anterior cruciate ligament had torn.
There is no doubt that this injury curtailed what promised to be a glittering career, and why at the age of only 33 clubs would not be prepared to consider a player with such a fantastic record and pay what he is asking.
In 2009 Manchester United took a punt on his reputation signing him as a free transfer from Newcastle United. He managed just 6 league starts and 19 in all competitions. In all he made 52 appearances including those as a substitute in all competition in three years scoring 17 goals. Another free transfer saw him move to Stoke City where he has made just five appearances and four of those as a substitute.
Yes, he was a superstar, yes his name means a lot to football fans, but not nearly as much as it used to. What is so incredibly sad is that he would have made a great deal of money from the game, so why would you try and squeeze so much out of a League that is just finding its feet. Sure his image has a financial value and many Liverpool and England fans would want to meet him and possibly see him play, but if that is the case reduce the wages and ask for a slice of the merchandising profit.
Some players want to keep playing because they love the game, and that is why they drop down the leagues and keep playing and helping the next generation. Owen, clearly does not love the game that much. One cannot blame Owen or his management for trying to squeeze whatever they can out of a new club, but when you have made as much money as he has and are well past your prime it is important to look at the damage such requests do to the value of your image! Keep on with such unrealistic demands and soon your image too will be worth considerably less.