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By ESPN Staff

Owen pledges '100%' loyalty to Newcastle

Newcastle striker Michael Owen insists he is '100% committed' to the club but did not appreciate being pressured into expressing his loyalty by former Magpies chairman Freddy Shepherd.

Owen was linked with a move away from St James' Park in the summer and then chairman Shepherd demanded the England striker pledge his allegiance to the club after they had stood by him after almost an entire season on the sidelines with a knee injury.

Shepherd was recently replaced by Chris Mort following Mike Ashley's takeover of the club.

The 27-year-old did not respond to Shepherd's call for a public declaration of loyalty at the time but has now reiterated his desire to remain in the north-east.

He told The Mag: 'I have only ever said positive things about Newcastle and always been 100% committed.

'Whenever I have been doubted I've always responded the best way I know by scoring goals. But I'm stubborn and won't be bullied into saying things.

'I don't feel I should keep coming out every week and saying I'm loving this, that or the other. There was no speculation until various pieces came out in the media saying `if Michael Owen doesn't say this, then I'll tell him that Chelsea and Liverpool aren't interested...'

'My management company used to get phone calls from boardroom level saying I haven't done this or I haven't done that, or we want more interviews on this.

'But when I'm injured I just put up a shield and take the abuse and remember who said it.' Shepherd said in May: 'I'm telling Michael he has two choices. He either comes out and tells our fans, who have taken him to their hearts, that he is happy here or I tell him that not one of the big four clubs, Man United, Chelsea, Arsenal or Liverpool, are interested in him.' Owen, who is in the Newcastle squad for today's Premier League game against Aston Villa after overcoming a thigh injury, joined the club in a reported £17million deal with Real Madrid in August 2005. Shepherd claimed there had been a £9.5million buy-out clause in Owen's contract when he signed for the Magpies, but that it expired at the end of July.