Owen: Don't tar everyone with the same brush
Manchester United striker Michael Owen believes professional footballers are increasingly at risk of being viewed unfavourably by the public.
The past few months have seen English football overwhelmed by a slew of negative headlines regarding the behaviour of some high earners in the Barclays Premier League.
The enormous salaries commanded by players has also provoked the ire of the media and fans, with some commanding weekly wages in excess of £200,000 a week.
Footballers have become an easy target for critics, with some quick to brand them as being out of touch with the rest of society.
But Owen insists the sweeping generalisations are unfair on many professionals.
"People like to judge footballers as a whole but I think that's pretty unfair," Owen told BBC Radio 5 Live.
"Everyone's different. I've met some footballers that are absolutely fantastic people, are always visiting sick kids, they do things for charities, but they don't ask for any press coverage.
"They just go about it because they want to do it. Some don't, but that's not to say they're bad people.
"I think it's dangerous if you generalise and say 'all footballers are this, all footballers are that'.
"We're all individuals, we all do our different things, and the common thing is we all go out on a Saturday afternoon and play on the football pitch.
"But apart from that every footballer's different."
Owen's team-mate Wayne Rooney has come in for particular criticism after questioning the ambition of United prior to signing a new five-year contract which makes him one of the Premier League's highest earners.
Speculation that Rooney would leave Old Trafford gripped the club for a number of days before the new contract was signed, but when asked what affect the uncertainty had on the club, Owen said: "I don't think any, really.
"Everyone seems to be happy now. The club have got a world-class player signed for five years and obviously Wayne's happy and the manager's happy.
"Wayne is obviously ambitious and the club's ambitious. He wouldn't have signed if he had any doubts.
"I don't think there was a change of mind. The press can look into things like that, the why and what and all the rest of it."
United boss Sir Alex Ferguson revealed both he and the rest of the squad received an apology from Rooney for his comments regarding the club's direction, and Owen feels the 25-year-old was right to do so.
He said: "If there was any confusion, then maybe so.
"A lot has been made out of it but half of it is just to fill papers because of the size of the club and the stature of the player.
"Cutting out all the rubbish, the main thing is that he's signed.
"It's better having Wayne Rooney in your squad than not, so we're all happy in that way."
Owen also revealed he has suffered a setback in his recovery from injury.
The striker was due to return for last night's Carling Cup fixture with Wolves at Old Trafford, but a hamstring tear is set to sideline him for a few more weeks.
He said: "I had a tight groin quite a while ago and then I trained for a week in preparing for last night's game, but had a setback in training with a different muscle injury, so unfortunately that ruled me out for last night and is going to rule me out for a few weeks as well."