Exclusive: Football legend Owen backs England to bring T20 World Cup home

Liverpool icon Michael Owen during an interview with Khaleej Times in Dubai.
Liverpool icon Michael Owen during an interview with Khaleej Times in Dubai.

Dubai - The former Liverpool striker is also floored by the passion for the game in India and Pakistan



by

James Jose

Published: Wed 20 Oct 2021, 11:52 PM

For someone as decorated a footballer as Michael Owen, sport was in his blood growing up in Cheshire. The Liverpool legend, who etched his name at Anfield, dabbled in many a sport during his teen years. So, it hardly comes as a surprise that the former England international has a special fondness for cricket, the other major sport in the UK, apart from football.

And the striker, who made 89 appearances for England, including three World Cups, is looking forward to the T20 World Cup in the UAE which begins on Saturday. And while he quite obviously is backing Eoin Morgan’s men to ‘bring it home,’ Owen is also floored by the passion for the game in India and Pakistan.

“I love cricket. We had a World Cup in the UK (2019) and it really did capture the imagination of a lot of people and the final was just unbelievable,” Owen told the Khaleej Times.

“Cricket is a growing sport in England, of course, it’s been popular for many years but it’s really getting even more popular now. So, of course, I’m an England fan for the World Cup but I also like the passion of teams like India, Pakistan, you know the passionate fans. I went to England against India in the World Cup at Old Trafford and, even in England, the stadiums are full. So, teams that have got a real passionate following for cricket, I hope they do well because obviously, it mean so much to their people,” he added.

Owen, who also plied his trade with La Liga giants Real Madrid and record Premier League winners Manchester United, was in Dubai to mentor children as part of the Football Escapes camp, organised by Jumeirah Beach Hotel.

Owen, who played 297 matches and scored 158 goals during a trophy-laden eight-year stint with Liverpool, also went onto to play for Newcastle United from 2005 to 2009.

The Magpies came under new ownership by a Saudi Arabia-backed consortium and Owen felt the takeover could be a game changer.

“Well, we’re all unsure, aren’t we. Until we see an action you can only let your mind sort of waver and think back to when the last sort of takeover of this nature happened and that was Manchester City, 10-15 years ago, and look where they are now. So, if you’re a Newcastle fan of course, from the point of view of supporting your team and seeing great players, then you would probably be getting excited at the moment, because all of those things could be happening. It certainly could be a game changer,” said the former Real Madrid ace.

“And who knows, you might be sitting here in 10 years with Newcastle being a very competitive team like Manchester City are now because it wasn’t long ago since Manchester City were in the championship. Newcastle, the same, and it just shows you how quickly things can change. But if things do change, if there is a lot of money that’s put into the club then I still think it’s going to take some time for that to develop, baby steps, and all. I don’t think Newcastle are going to be able to sign the best players in the world in the next transfer window, far from it. But over time, maybe five to 10 years then, who knows, Newcastle could be a powerful club,” the 41-year-old added.

Owen is currently a television pundit for the Premier League and BT Sport, also felt this year’s title race will be as tight as ever and showed the quality of the League.

“I think the level of football has risen again. I think the Premier League is as good as it’s ever been, really. I think if you look around at the moment, Spain has taken a little bit of a nosedive. Italy is maybe a bit more resurgent. France, of course, is still a country that’s only got one serious team. I think the Premier League is just kicking on again, it’s been probably the best league in the world for five years now. And I can’t see that change in the next decade,” elaborated Owen.

“More and more good players are coming, more and more good managers are coming. The title race is probably going to be closer than it’s been for some time. I think Chelsea, Manchester City and Liverpool are probably the three standout teams. And it’s very hard to choose, it’s very hard to say who’s going be the winner, which is what you want I think in a league — it keeps it refreshingly open and causes debate and lot’s to talk about and things like that. So, the Premier League’s in a very strong position at the moment. You’ve pressed me to say who is going to win it then I’ll probably narrow those three down to two and say Manchester City and Liverpool. And of course my heart, probably says Liverpool,” he felt.

james@khaleejtimes.com


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