Michael Owen has admitted that he was once fearful of starring in a pizza advert while he was an England international.
Owen enjoyed a successful ten-year career as a regular for England, making his debut in 1998 and retiring after Fabio Capello’s side failed to qualify for Euro 2008.
The striker scored 40 goals in 89 games, and went to five major tournaments with the national team.
Now a football pundit and horse enthusiast, Owen believes that there is a ‘fear factor’ ingrained into England teams, even as far back as when he made his debut.
“Forget who’s going to cost us,” Owen told BBC Sport. “There’s almost a fear of being ‘the one’ – and that then turns into a selfish attitude. You can’t be expressive, you can’t be creative.”
“There will be one person that everyone’s going to gang up on – the press, the media, whatever – but you’ve got to be bigger than that, not bothered about that and actually just do what’s best for the team.
“There’s been a fear over the years because we all see someone missing a penalty or someone getting sent off and costing the team.
“The whole country then almost gangs up on that player.
“There’s a fear amongst the squad – or there certainly was in my time – whereby you just didn’t want to be that person everybody castigates, gets vilified, and you’re the one that misses a penalty and they make a pizza advert about you.”
Gareth Southgate featured in an advert for Pizza Hut after his infamous penalty shootout miss against Germany in the Euro ’96 semi-finals.