Owen makes penalties admission

Michael Owen wins a penalty against Argentina at the 2002 World Cup

Michael Owen wins a penalty against Argentina at the 2002 World Cup

First published in National Sport News © by

Michael Owen has admitted he was "guilty" of going down for both his World Cup penalties against Argentina when he could have stayed on his feet.

The 32-year-old striker won penalties for England at the 1998 and 2002 tournaments - the only spot-kicks awarded to the national side at World Cups since 1990. Owen insisted he had not dived because there was contact in both cases but said he could have stayed on his feet.

He made his admission at the Leaders in Football conference on the same panel in front of Pierluigi Collina - UEFA's head of refereeing and the official who awarded the 2002 penalty.

Owen is now at Stoke, whose manager Tony Pulis this week called for a three-match ban for simulation after a blatant dive by Liverpool's Luis Suarez, but he would not repeat that call.

He said: "It is the topic of the week, last year we were probably talking about diving. Next week it will be drugs or racism, we are just round on the cycle. I don't think it's really different from last year.

"It is in our game, it is happening so fast these days that it is virtually impossible to see whether there was contact. I'd say that 75% of people could stay on their feet for a penalty, and if they get touched and go down it is almost, 'hey got touched so it's okay to go down'.

"I have been guilty as well, I played at the 1998 World Cup against Argentina and I was running flat out, got a nudge, went down. Could I have stayed up? Yes probably. Then four years later you [Collina] gave me a penalty again against Argentina. Again, I could have stayed on my feet, the defender's caught me and I did have a decent gash down my shin from it but I could have stayed up."

Owen also claimed there was "a long list" of England players who were paralysed by fear when when turning out for their country, and that was a major reason why the national side had underperformed in recent years.

He said: "I've heard many people in the past leading up to England games or after England games talking about what the papers are going to say the next day about them, or how they're going to get booed.

"It's a very intense feeling playing for your country and I don't think people can express themselves, or I don't think people do express themselves, as well as they can or they do at club level."

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