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Boro must capitalise at Stoke


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Owen: Lack of action led to retirement

Michael Owen admits a lack of game time this season was a decisive factor in his decision to retire from football this summer.

Owen, 33, this week announced his departure from the game amid a wave of support from fellow players.

The striker says only being able to make six appearances for Stoke thus far this term eventually took a toll on his desire to play on.

"It would be wrong to blame fitness," he said on his website. "It is either the manager's opinion I am not good enough or that I don't fit into the system."

Adding that he had "total respect" for Tony Pulis' decision to leave him out more often than not, Owen continued: "Considering retirement was a gradual process but I had come to the decision before Christmas that this would be my final season in professional football, although that wasn't quite the plan at the outset.

"I had signed for Stoke with every intention of playing more football than I had in recent seasons. Looking at it realistically, things are unlikely to change in the remaining weeks of the season. And having played so little in recent years, the chances of me continuing to play at the top level look remote."

Saying he had turned down opportunities to play abroad in the future, the former Liverpool, Real Madrid, Newcastle and Manchester United frontman said he planned to set up a company designed to help youngsters manage their career in the game.

"An emotion that lives with me is a sense of 'what might have been' had injuries not robbed me of my most lethal weapon - speed," he added.

"Many of my highlights were early on in my career and I can only wonder what more I would have achieved had my body been able to withstand the demands that I was making of it. I was almost too quick."

Meanwhile, former Liverpool team-mate Emile Heskey has told Owen that he should have played on for at least one more year in Australia's A-League. Heskey joined Newcastle Jets last year and says a similar switch may have prolonged Owen's desire to play the game.

"Playing in Australia would have been great for Michael," Heskey told The Sun. "He has had a great career and I am sure he would have a lot of takers out here if he wanted to prolong his playing career.

"Our owners love their horses too, so I am sure he would fit in with them. It would be great to link up with him again. It would be like rolling back the years.

"I am a little bit surprised that more players do not come out here to play. There are rules that allow teams to limit the amount of overseas players. There is a restriction but I think more players will start to look to come here to continue playing."

Information from the Press Association was used in this report.


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