Owen whets Lions’ appetite


Interview MICHAEL OWEN, Selangor U-19 team football clinic at Padang SUK, Shah Alam. AFIQUE YUSOFF/The Star..

PETALING JAYA: A team full of talent with a point to prove. And it is no wonder why English fans are confident the Three Lions will roar and bring home the Henry Delaunay trophy.

Even their legendary striker Michael Owen feels that they are the favourites with the array of exciting players they have.

He also thinks that the one-year delay due to Covid-19 is a blessing in disguise as players who were injured then are now fit and raring for the assault.

Speaking at Astro’s Euro 2020 virtual launch at Sunway Pyramid on Thursday, Owen said due to the pandemic, England coach Gareth Southgate had a year to prepare and based on their World Cup qualifying matches, England will go in with a big, big chance of winning it.

“Some of the big and experienced players like Harry Kane were injured at this point last year. It’s good now that they are fit and I hope it stays that way.

“Not just that, we seem to have options in every position, ” said the 2001 Ballon D’Or winner.

“Take in rightback, we have at least five players who are of international class. Trent Alexander -Arnold is one of the best attacking rightbacks in the world while Aaron Wan Bissaka is defensively sound. Reece James has a balance of both and there’s the experienced Kyle Walker and Kieran Trippier.

“There is now depth in every position.

“We have top strikers in Kane and Marcus Rashford, wingers like Raheem Sterling, Phil Foden and Jadon Sancho and playmakers James Maddison, Mason Mount and Jack Grealish.”

However, there’s one thing that worries him... the man between the posts although his pick is Everton’s Jordan Pickford.

“Probably Pickford will start. As for the others, if you fast forward to a year, you could see Sam Johnson or Dean Henderson in the mix for number one.

“The problem with Nick Pope is that he is not good enough with his feet. England loves the passing style and they need a keeper that’s confident with his distribution.”

Looking at the current squad, Owen can’t help but recall his international days and even admitted that the era he was in, England were meant for great things but failed to realise their true potential.

Owen played in the 1998,2002 and 2006 World Cups and Euro 2000 and 2004. He scored goals in all but one of these tournaments made him the only player ever to have scored in four major tournaments for England.

At the Euro 2000, England were booted out of the group stages and four years later, they lost in the quarter-finals to Portugal on penalties after a 2–2 draw.

“One regret that I have is that I was in such a great era with top players but we didn’t manage to win anything. It still makes me wonder how we didn’t win anything.

“Very disappointing but you can never take away the great memories that I had with the boys.”

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