Hungry Owen bites back at 'slurs' ahead of Anfield return
Anfield saw the best of Michael Owen. His record of 158 goals in 297 Liverpool appearances comfortably eclipses what he achieved with Real Madrid, Newcastle and Manchester United.
For them combined he scored 63 goals in 176 appearances, and there has been a sense of decline about his career for years. His 89th and last England cap was in 2008.
Owen (32)returns to Anfield today still seeking his first goal at the ground since leaving in 2004. He is yet to score for Stoke, though his on-pitch time has been brief.
Why Stoke? To be by his horses, of course. So goes the theory which the striker is at pains to dispel.
Owen wrote on his website: "People evolve. Long gone are the days when I had little else in my life other than football. I'm happily married and have four children.
"I part-own a physiotherapy business and a racing stables among other interests, employing over 50 people.
"Those require 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!
"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. I have had to re-invent myself and the way I play.
"I believe my greatest achievement is to still be playing at the highest level after all the injuries I've suffered." (© Independent News Service)
• Daniel Agger has signed a contract extension with Liverpool which is understood to tie the 27-year-old Danish defender to the club until 2016.