• Premier League

Owen admits his career changed at 19

ESPN staff
March 22, 2013
Michael Owen has struggled to impose himself on Stoke's first team © PA Photos

Michael Owen admits a lack of game time this season was a decisive factor in his decision to retire from football this summer.

Owen, 33, this week announced his departure from the game amid a wave of support from fellow players. The striker says only being able to make six appearances for Stoke thus far this term eventually took a toll on his desire to play on.

"It would be wrong to blame fitness," he said on his website. "It is either the manager's opinion I am not good enough or that I don't fit into the system."

Adding that he had "total respect" for Tony Pulis' decision to leave him out more often than not, Owen continued: "Considering retirement was a gradual process but I had come to the decision before Christmas that this would be my final season in professional football, although that wasn't quite the plan at the outset.

"I had signed for Stoke with every intention of playing more football than I had in recent seasons. Looking at it realistically, things are unlikely to change in the remaining weeks of the season. And having played so little in recent years, the chances of me continuing to play at the top level look remote."

Saying he had turned down opportunities to play abroad in the future, the former Liverpool, Real Madrid, Newcastle and Manchester United frontman said he planned to set up a company designed to help youngsters manage their career in the game.

"An emotion that lives with me is a sense of 'what might have been' had injuries not robbed me of my most lethal weapon - speed," he added.

"Many of my highlights were early on in my career and I can only wonder what more I would have achieved had my body been able to withstand the demands that I was making of it. I was almost too quick."

Owen who burst onto the scene as a teenager, has admitted his career turned at the age of 19 when injury forced him to adapt his game.

He said: "My hamstring gave way in a game at Leeds at the age of 19 and, from that moment on, my playing career was compromised.

"I actually take great pride in the fact that, even when not fully fit, I still competed at the very highest level playing for some of the world's biggest clubs."

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