Michael Owen: Social media abuse from Liverpool fans is hurtful
Liverpool goal scoring great Michael Owen has admitted he has been frustrated by persistent abuse that comes his way from the club's supporters on social media, after revealing he tried to rejoin the club 'several times' after initially leaving for Real Madrid in 2004.
Owen emerged as one of the biggest stars in world football after he burst through the ranks at Liverpool, scoring 158 goals in 297 games for the club in eight wonderfully successful seasons.
The England striker was credited with winning the 2001 FA Cup Final for Liverpool with two memorable goals against Arsenal in Cardiff, in a year when he was also crowned as the winner of the Ballon d'Or prize given to the best player in world football.
Yet Owen's move to join Liverpool's rivals Manchester United in 2009 and his Premier League title success with Alex Ferguson's side two years later infuriated some fans of his former club, who have persistently voiced their annoyance at Owen's return to Liverpool as a club ambassador.
Now Owen has opened up to Independent.ie on his feelings surrounding the criticism that comes his way, with these comments offering a different light on the reasons why he made the move to United.
"The criticism I get from Liverpool fans is annoying and while you try to ignore it, I am flesh and blood at the day and the abuse is not nice," BT Sport pundit Owen told us.
"I started my career at Liverpool and had a lot of success there, so they will always be the club closest to my heart, but my attempts to return to the club on a couple of occasions were blocked and I had to pursue my career elsewhere at that point.
"The first time I made an attempt to return to Liverpool, Fernando Torres was there and they didn't need an extra stiker. Then Luis Suarez was there and again I was not needed, but I would have loved to have returned to Liverpool if the chance was there.
"We tried to make it happen and a few people at Liverpool did their best to open a few doors, but it wasn't to be and the offer to join Newcastle and United was there, so I had to take it."
Owen's warm words towards Liverpool confirm his deep rooted affection for the club, but it appears that some supporters will never forgive him for making the move to join United.
Who is your sportstar of the year?
Vote in the Irish Independent Sport Star Awards and you could win the ultimate sports prize.
Prizes include, a trip to Old Trafford to watch Man United take on Liverpool in the Premier League, tickets to Ireland's home games in the Six Nations, All Ireland football and hurling final tickets and much more.