MICHAEL OWEN claims he was NOT the best player in the world when he won the Ballon d’Or.
Premier League legend Owen became just the fourth Englishman to land the prestigious award when he was crowned the globe’s top footballer in 2001.Owen reckons there were better players around despite his incredible goal and trophy haul for Liverpool[/caption]
He scored 28 goals in 43 games as the Reds completed an FA Cup, League Cup and Uefa Cup treble.
And having netted 58 times in the previous three campaigns, Owen was voted top of the pile ahead of Real Madrid striker Raul and Bayern Munich goalkeeper Oliver Kahn.
But Owen, who ended with 158 goals for Liverpool before scoring at Real, Newcastle, Manchester United and Stoke, reckons he was not a worthy recipient.
Having seen Stanley Matthews, Bobby Charlton and Kevin Keegan all win before him, Owen was certainly in fine company.
Yet he feels there were other players around at the time who had enjoyed better campaigns.
Owen, who won the Premier League title in 2011 with United and is now a pundit, told William Hill’s podcast Up Front with Simon Jordan: “I wasn’t the best player in the world when I won the Ballon d’Or.
“But in a sense I was. Realistically I knew I wasn’t the best in the world.
“You had the likes of Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane playing at that time – there were better players than me.
“However, when I stepped on the pitch I felt like I was the best.
“But when I sit here today, I know that there were better players than me at the time.
“I think footballers were more pure back in the day.
“Now you have to be an athlete, you have to be able to run, you have to be big and you have to be fast.
“If Matt Le Tissier, one of the most gifted players of our time, were playing today, would he even get into a team?”Stanley Matthews won the Ballon d’Or in 1956[/caption] Bobby Charlton won it in 1966[/caption] Kevin Keegan was crowned king in 1978 and 1979[/caption]