Stoke City: Defiant Michael Owen hits back at critics
MICHAEL Owen has limbered up for Sunday's return trip to Liverpool by blasting those who claim he has lost his passion for the game.
The new Stoke recruit says such allegations are a slur on his character because his outside interests – such as his racing stables – are simply an attempt to prepare for life after football.
The 32 year-old England striker argues in an article on his website: "People evolve. Long gone are the days when I had little else in my life other than football.
"I'm now happily married and have the small task of bringing up four children.
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"I part own a physiotherapy business and a racing stables among other interests, while employing over 50 people in the process.
"Inevitably, taking on these responsibilities requires a certain amount of time and effort, but does that necessarily mean I have taken my eye off the ball when it comes to plying my trade? Absolutely not!"
Owen continued: "So, why did I get the urge to justify my actions? Because it feels like a slur on my character and integrity to hear people questioning my desire.
"Nature has dictated I am no longer the player I once was. It's got nothing to do with dedication, hunger or desire.
"Due to the nature of my injuries I have had to re-invent myself and the way I play. No longer can I sprint 100 times in a game at lightning speed, and as a result I have had to adapt.
"But, you know what? I believe my greatest achievement is to still be playing at the highest level after all the injuries I've suffered."
And in a message to Stoke fans, he adds: "They say that good things come to those who wait. In my case, that was certainly true this summer when, after months of waiting, I finally put pen to paper confirming myself as a Stoke City player.
"Tony Pulis had shown an interest in me before I signed for Manchester United and despite having to wait three years, his desire to sign me never wavered.
"There are not many better feelings in life than to feel wanted and I have been made to feel that way by the manager, the players and the fans ever since I arrived.
"When the time comes to hang up my boots I won't be sitting around wondering what to do next, but until then I am as hungry as I've ever been to succeed in the game."