Former Manchester United midfielder Owen Hargreaves has revealed he offered to play for the club for free as he tried to salvage his Old Trafford career.
Hargreaves endured an injury-ravaged final few seasons at the club, failing to play a full game during the final two years of his contract as he struggled with persistent injury troubles.
With his deal at the club having expired in the summer, Sir Alex Ferguson understandably decided to release the player he signed from Bayern Munich for £17 million in 2007. Hargreaves, however, has revealed how desperate he was to stay at the club and try to prove his fitness.
"At one stage I did offer to play for nothing this season, just to stay on,'' Hargreaves told the Daily Mail, "but they said, 'You don't want to do that' and they were probably right'.
"I don't blame them for letting me go. I can understand it. There comes a point when you have to say, 'This hasn't worked out. The game has moved on. See you later, all the best'."
Having spent the summer working hard to regain full fitness, Hargreaves is yet to find a new club, but he has attracted interest from Premier League side West Brom. Wherever he eventually signs, the 30-year-old is confident his body will hold up to the rigours of top-flight football and even believes he can force his way back into Fabio Capello's plans for next summer's European Championships.
"I'm going to blow people away,'' he said. "I'm coming back believing I can return to the level I was at before. My body feels great and my knees are perfect.
"I've just got this huge chip on my shoulder because I've been out for three years and people think I'm dead and buried, but right now I'd like to think I can play 40 games this season and, with the right care, I believe I can train every day. I hope to be back in the England side for the European Championships next summer. You have to have ambition.''
Hargreaves attracted attention earlier in the summer for a series of videos that were posted on YouTube on his behalf as he demonstrated his fitness in a series of drills. The midfielder had the videos made to attract the interest of clubs as he does not employ an agent, and says he was unfazed by the jokes they created when the media discovered them.
"It ended up on YouTube because the files were too big to email to specific people, specific clubs,'' he said, "so I put them on YouTube so they could see it. I know it became a bit of a story when people found it in the public domain but I don't really care. No big deal.''
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