Michael Owen has discussed how his move to Manchester United came through and how he could not sleep the night before he was scheduled to meet Sir Alex Ferguson to discuss a move to Old Trafford.
In his honest new book, Michael Owen: Reboot – My Life, My Time, the former England international has revealed it was a United player who initially started the push for Owen's stunning move to Old Trafford.
The English striker was a free agent in the summer of 2009 and had just held discussions with Everton before Manchester United came along.
As a former Liverpool lad, Owen knew that this move would virtually destroy his relationship with the Anfield faithfuls but he couldn't resist the lure of lifting the Premier League trophy with United, something that has still not been achieved by Liverpool.
"Two days after returning from a meeting with Everton manager David Moyes, I was just having a quiet day at home when Nicky Butt’s name appeared on my phone," Owen explained, as reported by Manchester Evening News from an excerpt from Owen's book.
He continues, "Be prepared, Sir Alex is going to give you a call,’ he said. ‘Ok,’ I replied. ‘Yeah. I think he wants to sign you,’ Nicky told me."
Revealing his reaction, Owen stated, "I couldn’t believe it. I legged it to the lounge and told Louise. My head was spinning at the thought of a chance to be at a club where winning trophies was the norm. Big games, Champions League, 75,000 fans for every game — we were both buzzing."
He continued, "For the next hour I literally sat in my hall staring at my phone then, all of a sudden, it rang. It was a private number. I don’t often answer those but this time was an exception. I let it ring for five or six seconds before answering. It was him. After a few pleasantries, Sir Alex invited me to his house the next day."
Revealing how he felt after the call, Owen stated, "I hardly slept. Conscious of making a good first impression, I chose my clothes carefully and drove there early, parked in some supermarket car park half a mile from his house and sat there fifteen minutes before the appointed time. Arriving ten minutes early was the target. I was desperate to impress him in every way. I drove to his house and pressed the buzzer."
The English striker then claimed, "Obviously I knew him given our shared interest and connections in horse racing, so we probably spent more time talking about racing than football in that first meeting. Strangely, I don’t think he ever directly said that he wanted to sign me. It was just assumed on both sides. I left knowing that I was probably about to become a Manchester United player. Tony Stephens, my agent, hadn’t even spoken to David Gill."
Owen went on score 17 goals in 52 games for United, winning a Premier League title in 2010/11 and the League Cup the year before.
Revealing why he did not care about what Liverpool fans think after his move to Anfield was stopped by the Reds in 2009, Owen said, "By this time, I had honestly just resigned myself to the fact that Liverpool fans were going to hate me whatever I did. Would they hate me more for going to Manchester United than going to Everton? Toss a coin..."
He continued, "All I could do was make a career decision with only myself and my family in mind. Knowing that I’d done everything possible to engineer a return to Liverpool, it was clear that it was never going to happen."
Talking about the condition ahead of him at that time, Owen said, "Faced instead with the possibility of playing at a big club, with great facilities, in the Champions League, with players that I’d known and played with at England, it really wasn’t a difficult choice at all to sign for Manchester United. I do not regret it for a second. What’s more, my family was delighted for me."
Specifying why many players would have failed to turn down that move in his place, Owen concluded, "First and foremost, I was a footballer. Football was my means of earning. As such, I had an opportunity to play the game at the highest level late in my career and provide for my family at the same time. I severely doubt that many players – despite what they might say – would have turned it down.”