Michael Owen reveals how Karim Benzema helped him to join United
- Benzema's decision to move to Real Madrid has freed the way for Owen
- The former England international now feels 'thankful' to the Frenchman
Michael Owen remembers his move to Old Trafford back in 2009: "I've actually got something to thank Benzema for, he might not know but I wouldn't have gone to Manchester United if it wasn't for him.
"They wanted to buy Benzema [but] he chose Madrid. I was told by Sir Alex Ferguson that we want Benzema but if he doesn't come then you're coming, so I was pleading with him to go to Real Madrid, so thank you to him."
Back then, Karim Benzema was one of the most wanted forwards around after two impressive Ligue 1 seasons in which he scored 37 times in 72 games for Lyon. He was deciding between United and Real Madrid, and eventually joined Los Blancos for £25 million, which cleared the path for Owen to move from Newcastle United to Old Trafford.
The ex-England international tore his hamstring aged just 19 and then, a few years later, the horror crept in. He recalls the final years of his career that spanned a United spell: "For six or seven years I hated it. I couldn't wait to retire.
"It wasn't me. All I was doing is coming short, linking play and getting in the box. It ended up with people thinking I was a great goalscorer who didn't do much else. Mentally I could do it, but physically I couldn't.
"I was quick, running in channels, beating people. That's who I was - compared to the last six or so years when I turned into the only thing I could. I was petrified of running into a channel. I just knew I was going to tear a muscle. The worst thing about it is your instinct is to do what you have done all your life but you start thinking: 'Oh no, don't'."