He said WHAT? Michael Owen on Liverpool and Real Madrid

August 3rd 2000: “I have still got three years left on my current contract and I am as happy as I have ever been at Liverpool. If Liverpool want me for even longer, I would be delighted to discuss it. I am very proud of playing for Liverpool and have no intention of leaving.”

September 18th 2000: “It’s very rare for one player to stay at the same club for 15 years or more. So perhaps it is unrealistic to think I will spend the whole of my career at Anfield. All the best players in the world seemed to be there and some of England’s top performers, such as Paul Gascoigne and David Platt, were being tempted over by big money contracts. I thought how glamorous it would all be.”

September 19th 2000: “When I was an England fan you would want to rely on certain people. You knew with Alan if he had half a chance he would score. I do not know what it is but Alan Shearer scored in a lot of big games. When you used to watch England sometimes you felt it needed Alan to do something. It was almost as if the team relied on him. It was the same with Gary Lineker. When I was 10 I watched the 1990 World Cup and I was there saying ‘Come on Lineker’. I want people to feel the same way about me. You want people to believe in you. It’s nice to be the one who is relied upon by everybody else. I want to be regarded as a big game player. I believe I am good enough.”

February 28th 2001: “Injuries have crippled me in a way. What can you do when you get injured? You’re sitting there, twiddling your thumbs and just waiting for yourself to get better so you can prove something. I had a flying start to the season and then got a freak bang on the head and was out for five games. After that it’s been stop-start all season. But the last thing I want is to be labelled injury-prone. It’s the worst thing you could be known as.”

May 6th 2001: “Liverpool have asked me to negotiate a new contract and we’ll wait until the end of the season before talks. I’ve got two years of my current deal left and if all goes well I’ll be happy to continue as a Liverpool player. I’m only 21, I’m learning and progressing here and I know by the time I’m 25 or 26 I’ll be a more all round player.”

May 12th 2001: “The long-term future of the club is looking good and I am going to be a part of it. Liverpool have told me they want me to stay and I am pleased about that. I have been at the club 10 years and the future has never looked as good. I am excited about what is to come. There is so much optimism here because we are a club going forward.”

September 26th 2001: “I am delighted to sign this new contract – there has never been a thought in my mind about any other club than Liverpool. I am only 21 and yet this is the fourth professional contract I have signed with the club – they have always been incredibly fair by reviewing contracts early and I think that this is one of the many reasons there is such loyalty at Liverpool.”

April 17th 2002 on missing out on PFA shortlist: “I don’t want to sound bitter about it but if it was picked at the start of this year, I think I would have been in it, with the start to the season that I’d had, and the goals in Germany and against Albania. When it’s picked, you often think to the moment and van Nistelrooy, Henry and Pires were then on fire. I’m not doubting that they’ve had a great season as they deserve it. But we won the Charity Shield and Super Cup at the start of the season when I scored a lot of goals. If you stopped there, I might have got into the team.”

April 29th 2002: “Everyone would love to win the title, and it’s a major goal of mine. I am sure we are going to do it in the next year or two. We have shown a lot of improvement in the last three or four years, and I hope we can keep that going. Every year we have made a giant step forward. You just have to look at the points total.”

September 5th 2002: Owen confirmed as vice-captain of England

March 2nd 2003: “My immediate ambitions are to help Liverpool turn the corner and end the season on a high note. I still have this season and two more left on my contract so I won’t be going anywhere in a hurry. In an ideal world, and in the long term, I want to help Liverpool become the most successful club in the world again.”

April 24th 2003: “In the previous years, we had been getting closer and closer. When we started off great this season, I think everyone thought this was our year. We never said it in the press, but I think that was the general feeling around the ground, among the supporters and among the players. Then it went downhill and you lose a bit of confidence in yourself, in the team, in everything really. Hence we had a lot of bad results. If we can restore that confidence, have everyone believe in each other again and get on a good run – maybe we need one or two more players – I think we can win the League in the next year or the next couple of years.”

June 11th 2003: “Will I play abroad? It is impossible to say,” said Owen. “If Liverpool win the league every year, there is not any decision to make. I am moving into a new house soon and I am not just going to jump up and go. If we are a successful team, then I will always be happy. I am very happy at Liverpool. In an ideal situation, Liverpool are going to be challenging for the league next year. That’s what I need to do, challenge for the league and to play in the Champions League.”

September 2nd 2003: “I’m a Liverpool player and that is how I see myself in the future. Of course, being in the Champions League is important. I belong there and so do Liverpool. But I am sure there will be talks over a new contract soon and I am just as sure I will sign.”

November 16th 2003: “I believe my ambitions can be fulfilled at Liverpool. I find it a little insulting that, after 12 years’ service, my loyalty is being questioned. I have signed five contracts with Liverpool and on each occasion they have been sorted out very quickly and satisfactorily. The comments which have been made about me this week have come from people who don’t know the truth. I wouldn’t normally comment on gossip and speculation but I felt I should put the record straight for all Liverpool fans. I am certain 99 percent of them understand the situation anyway. But, as usual, these stories have been fuelled by people that simply don’t know the facts. The stories which followed resulted from some comments which I gave to a magazine several months ago. Some of the words I never even said and the rest were taken completely out of context. They have led to a lot of false claims that I will walk out on Liverpool if we don’t get into the Champions League. It has all got completely out of hand. I want every supporter to know that I am as committed to Liverpool as any player at the club. I have been the same ever since I first came to Anfield as an 11-year-old.”

May 10th 2004: “We will sort something out amicably next summer. I won’t just up and leave on a Bosman. I have the rest of this season and all next still left on my existing contract but talks have already started on a new one. Inevitably, they are complex though and don’t get done in just a week. But I certainly see myself at Liverpool next year. Why not? I’m not in football for the money. And that is largely what it means when players sit out their contracts and go for free. I’ve got a reasonable collection of trophies already, but I want more and that’s the main thing in my mind.”

June 5th 2004: “I still have one year remaining on my contract. So it is not the good moment to talk about my departure. It was important we got Champions League qualification. The most important thing for me is to continue to win as many trophies as possible, in a great club, and Liverpool can be this one. In a perfect world, it would be the greatest team in the world, and I would stay my entire career. I am dreaming about that. Now we have to see if Liverpool will quickly become a great club again. A footballer’s career is short and it is important to be at the right place at the right time.”

August 14th 2004 on signing for Real Madrid: “I am so proud to be wearing the number 11 shirt and I’d like to thank everyone for making me so welcome here. I’m going back for a few days, but will be back on Thursday. It has been a nice couple of days here. I would like to say a special thank you for being given the opportunity to play for the best team in the world.”

August 15th 2004: “I came here because it will make me a better player and a better person. Raul, Ronaldo and Morientes are three of the best strikers in the world and I am conscious of how hard I will have to work to get an opportunity here. Real Madrid is the club of champions. It’s a fantastic challenge. I am impatient and I can’t wait to pull on the famous shirt of Real Madrid.”

August 23rd 2004: “Money never came into it, just pure ambition. I never had any problems with Rafael Benitez and, if the transfer had broken down, I was ready to resume my career at Anfield. I said to the club that I wanted them to get a fee. If I was disloyal, I’d have gone on a Bosman next summer. As for being a Galactico, I blush when I hear the word. I am not going to call myself one, but I wouldn’t mind if other people start calling me that in a month or two because of my performances on the field. I expect I’ll have to sit on the bench once or twice, but so will everyone. It is a challenge but that is why I came here.”

October 5th 2004: “I am aware of what is being said about me in this country and it is upsetting that people are not more supportive. I thought we were meant to be encouraging our top players to take on the challenge of proving themselves abroad. I heard there was talk over the weekend about me coming back to Liverpool. Give me a chance. I have only been in Spain for six league matches. And I have never been the quitting type.”

October 20th 2004 on his first goal for Real Madrid: “This was a massive game, so to score the winner in front of your home fans in a Champions League match was a great feeling. I have put in some good performances, and some okay performances since I arrived here, so it was important for me to score a goal because that is an important part of my game. It is just a relief to get off the mark. Things are slowly getting better and better for me now. It is not easy living in a hotel room all the time, but I think everything is starting to come together.”

March 28th 2005 on Newcastle link: “I have utmost respect for Graeme Souness but I’m happy at Real Madrid. Obviously with me not playing as much as I would like there’s speculation – but that’s all it is, speculation. I don’t have to make any points out there now, I’ve been successful at Madrid, scored goals and the fans are pleased with me. The players respect me, and I think I’ve already proved myself.”

April 8th 2005: “Would I return to Liverpool? I would have nothing against it if I had to move for one reason or another. I left Liverpool on good terms, they are still the first result I look out for and I have a lot of friends there. I have no bitterness at all to Liverpool and they are still a club very close to my heart. It’s well documented I don’t like sitting on the bench, so let’s hope things improve.”

May 27th 2005 on Liverpool winning the Champions League: “Who knows if they would have got to the final if I was leading the attack or if I would have done things differently from Milan Baros. People will say my timing for leaving Anfield was suspect but how was I, or anyone else, to know that Liverpool were about to go on the most incredible run to the final? A few months ago when they had been knocked out of the FA Cup at Burnley and were struggling outside the Champions League places, people were speculating that it might be a disastrous season for Liverpool. There are so many turning points but now that they have come good I am thrilled for some of my old colleagues such as Stevie Gerrard, Didi Hamann and Jamie Carragher. I hope it does kick-start a great new era for Liverpool.”