Alan Shearer has criticised Michael Owen for revealing he “couldn’t wait to retire” during the last few years of his career, which included time spent under Shearer at Newcastle.
Owen scored more than 200 goals in a 17-year club career which began at Liverpool and featured spells with Real Madrid, Newcastle, Manchester United and Stoke.
But he said injuries forced him to change his game and that a fear of sprinting led to him taking up positions on the field where team-mates would not play passes which required him to chase.
“I was quick, running in channels, beating people,” Owen, 38, told BT Sport. “That’s who I was – compared to the last six or so years when I turned into the only thing I could.
“I was petrified of running into a channel. I just knew I was going to tear a muscle. The worst thing about it is your instinct is to do what you have done all your life but you start thinking: ‘Oh no, don’t.’
“For six or seven years I hated it. I couldn’t wait to retire. It wasn’t me. All I was doing is coming short, linking play and getting in the box. It ended up with people thinking I was a great goalscorer who didn’t do much else. Mentally I could do it, but physically I couldn’t.”
Owen was praised in some quarters for being honest about his situation, but Shearer was not so impressed, writing on Twitter: “Not sure @nufc fans, teammates or employers will want to thank him.”
Shearer was Newcastle’s caretaker manager for the final eight games of the 2008-09 season which ended with the club being relegated from the Premier League.
Owen played in seven of those games without scoring and missed the penultimate game of the season, a 1-0 home defeat to Fulham.
In his 2017 book “The Boy on the Shed”, former Newcastle physio Paul Ferris wrote that Owen missed that game because he “didn’t want to risk his groin because he was out of contract in the summer and was saying, ‘I’ll not get a contract at another club if I’m injured’.”
Shearer wrote the foreword to Ferris’ book.