Jamie Carragher has revealed that he advised then Liverpool teammate Michael Owen against joining Real Madrid in 2004.
Owen, who has announced that he is retiring from the game at the end of the season, left Anfield in 2004 to spend a single season in the Spanish capital.
However, the move came against the advice of Owen’s teammate Carragher, who is also retiring at the end of this current term.
“When he was left on the bench for the 2001 League Cup Final against Birmingham, he got his place back and ended up scoring the goals that won the FA Cup final against Arsenal and helped Liverpool qualify for the Champions League for the first time,” explained Carragher in his Daily Mail column this week.
“He was, simply, a big-game player. It’s why Real Madrid eventually came calling for him. Michael and I were rooming in America during Liverpool’s pre-season tour when he told me that Madrid had made him an offer and he was thinking seriously about it.
“Liverpool had just signed Djibril Cisse and Milan Baros had returned from Euro 2004 as the winner of the Golden Boot. Michael felt the time was right to pursue a fresh challenge. I told him he was making a mistake, that Madrid were a football club rife with politics and he wouldn’t play.
“They had Raul and Ronaldo, who always played, and to be a success at Madrid, you had to be more than just a goalscorer but Michael wouldn’t be moved. He thought he was the best and would become a success in Spain.
“And in difficult circumstances, he did very well. Despite Real Madrid having three managers that season and him getting limited starting opportunities, he scored 16 times in 45 appearances.
“He may not have won any honours but his reputation was not harmed. When he returned to England 12 months later, he could have come back to Anfield but Liverpool were outbid by Newcastle.”