Michael Owen has told talkSPORT he had many sleepless nights ahead of his unveiling at Real Madrid – because he was dreading the thought of having to do flicks-and-tricks.
Reflecting on his move to the Bernabeu from Liverpool, Owen also revealed how Jamie Carragher inadvertently pushed him into quitting the Reds for the Spanish giants.
Michael Owen scored 16 goals in 45 appearances in his only season at Real Madrid
The England goalscoring legend arrived at Real in an £8million deal in August 2004, with midfielder Antonio Nunez moving in the opposite direction to Anfield as part of the deal.
And ahead of linking up with the Galacticos, the former England striker was experiencing ‘one of the worst parts of his life’ as his nervousness and anxiety kicked in ahead of the big day.
Speaking to Natalie Sawyer and Jim White, he said: “It was one of the worst parts of my life to be honest.
“I knew it [the unveiling] was coming and I’d often looked at these Barcelona and Real Madrid players in envy, as soon as they were announced they’d grab a ball and do all these tricks.
“I thought, I can’t do tricks! Give me a ball and I’ll smack it in the goal. That was my main panic more than anything else. It was keeping me up at night thinking what am I going to do?
“I thought to myself I’m just going to volley the ball and hit it as hard as I can. As soon as they rolled the ball to me I picked it up, smiled to the cameras and then just volleyed it.
“They threw me another one, so then I volleyed that one as well! I ended up avoiding it all together in the end thankfully.”
Jamie Carragher attempted to stop Owen from moving to the Bernabeu – but only pushed the striker towards signing the deal even more!
Discussing the first moment he found out Real were interested in signing him, Owen revealed that then teammate Carragher inadvertently made him want to sign for the LaLiga giants even more – by attempting to warn him off moving to Spain.
“I was in America, me and Jamie Carragher were sharing the same room. We were on a pre-season tour and Rafa Benitez had just taken over at Liverpool,” he explained.
“My agent phoned me and said ‘Madrid want to buy you’. I just remember putting the phone down after a couple of minutes discussing it and Carragher has looked at me and said ‘don’t do it’.
“And I said to him ‘why not?’ And he said I wouldn’t play there. That actually made me sign for them, thinking I’m going to prove Carra wrong!
Give COVID-19 the red card
The quicker we work together to stop coronavirus spreading, the sooner we can get back into the pubs, the gyms and stadiums and arenas to see live sport again…
STAY AT HOME. Only leave for the following purposes:

  • to shop for basic essentials  only when you really need to
  • to do one form of exercise a day  such as a run, walk or cycle, alone or with other people you live with
  • for any medical need  for example, to visit a pharmacy or deliver essential supplies to a vulnerable person
  • to travel to and from work  but only where this is absolutely necessary

For more info and tips, visit the NHS website.
The government has also issued further detail on what we can do during lockdown.
Everyone should do what they can to stop coronavirus spreading.
“I always say to myself that it was a nice problem. How could you complain about Real Madrid being interested in you?
“Talking of sleepless nights… one day I was thinking I can’t leave my family and friend [at Liverpool]. I was virtually born at this football club and had come right through the ranks.
“But then if you don’t go you’ll have sixty years of thinking what might have been. It was the worst problem in the world, but a lovely problem at the same time as well.”
Watch a clip of Michael Owens interview on talkSPORT, above