Is there someone named Owen in Brazil
Owen: "No glory era in English football"
Former England international and Manchester United and Real Madrid striker Michael Owen, who retired at the end of last season, met for a chat at the Home of FIFA FIFA.com.
The nimble attacker began his career at Liverpool FC before retiring at Stoke City after 16 years of top quality football, including playing in the 1998, 2002 and 2006 FIFA World Cups ™.
Owen is now devoting himself to a new role in the media world. In an interview with FIFA.com he talked about how he got used to off-field life, his time under the recently retired Sir Alex Ferguson and the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil ™.
How do you rate the current English national team?I don't think we're in a glitzy era for English football. It's not our best team ever, but like any English team, it's always good, it's always competitive. I think we're still a long way from teams like Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Germany or the Netherlands. You're all better than us right now. But we're competitive and I don't think anyone will be happy to play against us when we go to the World Cup. We're a good team, but I don't think it's the best team in a long time.
Liverpool won the championship for the last time in 1990. In your opinion, what are the chances of playing for the title this season?It's going to be a very interesting Premier League this season. The three big teams that we have in England, or the three that we thought would make the league between themselves, are the two teams from Manchester and Chelsea. But there are a lot of question marks behind these clubs. All three have a new coach, many players have been replaced at Manchester City, Chelsea are looking for someone to score regularly and Manchester United have started the league a little slower. A little further down we see Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal, which are likely to be the next three. I don't think Liverpool will win the championship this year but if they get the Champions League places it will have been a good season for them. They have made a good start but it will be very difficult for them to win the league.
You played at Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson. What do you think will have changed after he leaves?It is normal for things to change dramatically in many ways after having been in one place for 25 years. Whoever would have taken on such a job would have been very much questioned. It will be a change for everyone in the club and for all players, for example new training methods. So I think changes would have been inevitable anyway. I think Manchester United have signed the right man in David Moyes. He has had a good career so far and has done a fantastic job at Everton. I could imagine that in time it will prove that it was a very good choice. They got off to a slow start to the season, but it was also a difficult start. I'm sure they will get through this and be one of the main contenders at the end of the season.
What was it like playing under Ferguson?It was an honor for me to play under a team manager like him for three years. From the outside, you always think, 'I wonder how he is'. Because he was so successful. And when you play for another team you always ask yourself why are they so good, why is the coach so good? It was great to be asked to play for Manchester United. And then to experience his team meetings, to see how he leads people and how he delegates. It's a lot of organization and he delegates very well to professionals from different fields. So it was very revealing.
Have you ever been intimidated by him?Rather respectful of him. It was interesting when I first got into the dressing room with the crew, I said to some of them: 'He yells a lot, doesn't he, he gets angry a lot. But they shook their heads and said, 'No, you should have seen him five years ago and then ten years ago, now he's very calm.' I used to be afraid of what he would be like. He demands a lot of respect, you are very disciplined when you play for him. But to be so successful you have to show respect.
How is it for you now that you are no longer involved in watching games like the Manchester Derby?When you step down it makes a big difference, of course, and football is such that you quit at a very young age. I'm 33 now and I don't play anymore, which is weird. That doesn't happen in many other professions. It's tough. For the first few months, not playing football was a pretty emotional thing. But everyone has to go through this at some point.
Are you tempted to pursue a career as a coach?I think about it sometimes and then I think - better not! [Laughs] There are so many things you can do after your career is over. I've got my first two coaching licenses and sometimes I wake up thinking that I want to do it. It's such a big commitment every single day of the year. I've played football for so many years and just quit and I think I definitely need a break. You never know what the future will bring, but I don't think I'll be a coach.
Sometimes the fans can't understand why football is a tough career choice. Can you explain some of the difficulties encountered?I think in any profession it gets harder the higher you get because everyone wants to beat you and be the best. It's always tough, you have to be on top of your game, you can't relax for a minute, you have to push yourself to be as good as you can. Even if that means sacrificing things that everyone else can do. You have to get enough sleep, eat right, whatever. You have to have the talent, but you also have to show the right attitude and commitment and be willing to make sacrifices. But the reward is great too. I don't think players really complain, but it's a tough life.
The field for the FIFA Ballon d'Or 2013 is clearing. Who do you think will win the title?Well, I think it was another great football year and there are so many good players. But the two who always top the list are [Lionel] Messi and [Cristiano] Ronaldo. In my opinion, they are by far the two best players in the world right now. Then there are some other players who have had great success with their teams. Bayern Munich immediately comes to mind as one of the most successful teams of the past year, winning the Champions League as well as the domestic championship and the cup. That's why players like Franck Ribéry will have their say, but I'm convinced that Messi and Ronaldo are the two best players. You've done consistently well and I think one of them will.
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