11 Apr 2014
In - Football

Michael Owen was 10 years old when Liverpool were last crowned champions of England.

But the prolific former Reds striker is delighted that the Anfield club remain in strong contention with less than a month left in the campaign.

Michael Owen on Liverpool by prostatecanceruk

Brendan Rodgers’ side host title rivals Manchester City in what’s shaping up to be a pivotal showdown on Merseyside on Sunday afternoon.

And Owen is hoping to watch some of the action unfold in the closing stretch of what’s been an enthralling campaign.

They do say the football season is a marathon not a sprint after all. And a player more famed for the latter, will take on the former in London – with Prostate Cancer UK centre stage.

And, long before the two title rivals prepare for a potentially defining 90 minutes when they gather inside the famous Anfield tunnel, Owen will be jostling for position as part of the celebrity contingent taking part in the Virgin Money London Marathon when he runs on behalf of Prostate Cancer UK.

“I don’t really know what to expect,” said Michael, as he spoke exclusively with Prostate Cancer UK at the Tower Hotel in London on Wednesday afternoon.

“This is my first ever one so it’s hard to know what I’m going to expect. But I always found in my career that I got nervous when I wasn’t sure about something.

If it was standing on the first tee of a golf competition or something then that’s when you get nervous. Playing football I always had a belief in my self and there was no reason to get nervous because I could do the job in hand.

“This is another thing. The marathon is something I’ve never done before so there are bound to be a few nerves. But in general I’m looking forward to a good day.”

Owen had many good days as a Liverpool player but a title-winners medal eluded him while at Anfield.

Some 24 years since the 1989/90 Division One success, the Reds are on the march again under the stewardship of Brendan Rodgers and could take a big step towards reclaiming their mantle of champions of the land with a win against Manuel Pelligrini’s City slickers.

Quite how much of the game Owen will watch will depend on his exploits across the legendary London circuit which takes him from Greenwich Park to The Mall via a host of landmarks.

And having whittled down his perspective time during an arduous training schedule, he remains optimistic he can break through the four hour barrier which would get him to the finish during half-time at Anfield.

“It gives me a great incentive to finish the marathon in double quick time so I can get the chance to watch some of the game,” he said.

“My target has been adapted. To start with I was being told that four-and-a-half hours would be good for a lad that has my shape and my muscle type and everything else. But the more I’ve trained and the more my expectations have been getting better. I’m hoping to do something under four hours now.”

The training techniques required for the marathon certainly differ from the every day rigours of the professional player, although Owen relished the challenge.

“My body was built for speed and endurance and that’s probably why I ended up being a professional footballer as well as I could combine my football skills with the body that enables me to perform at that level.

“Reversing all that, something I’ve trained for for many years has been difficult. The first few runs I did was a challenge and certain muscles ached more so than they probably should.

“I think I’ve adapted over the last few months to withstanding the rigours of long distance running. I think I’m in a good place now to complete the marathon and to do it in a respectable time.”

Targets and times aside, however, Owen is also running for a cause close to his heart.

His father had a recent scare with prostate cancer while he sadly lost his great uncle to a disease that kills one man every hour.

He added: “It was first brought to most of our attentions through Movember and I participated in that a couple of years ago. It’s been quite big within football for a good few years now, and then obviously in the mean time we had a little scare with my dad which thankfully was all put to bed rather quickly.

“But it gave me even more incentive to try to do my bit for the charity. That’s hopefully what I’m doing in doing the marathon and raising the money is for that. It’s a charity that I’ve aligned myself to and I’m really pleased to have done that.”

Owen will also be working with two other causes, Alder Hey Children’s Charity and scientists and medics working on improving genetic medicine from The University of Manchester and Manchester Royal Eye Hospital, who, alongside Prostate Cancer UK, will be displayed on the back of his running shirt.

“I’m grateful for Prostate Cancer UK for giving me one of the spaces in the team. It’s obviously a great thrill to be running the marathon full stop, but to be doing it for such a great cause is another thing. I’m delighted to be part of the team and it will be great to see so many of us taking part.”

His £50,000 target is also within reach and he added: “There are some great stories of people raising hundreds of thousands and even into the millions.

I thought £50,000 was quite a challenge for me and again when we all sat there we thought if we can get half that it would be good. That’s something that has really made us push the boat out to try and actually get there. I think we are going to make our target, which is a big thrill.”

On the subject of targets, what about Liverpool’s target of taking a massive stride towards the title with three points at Anfield on Sunday?

“It’s a huge game and its great to see Liverpool back at the top echelons of the game,” said Michael, who played 297 games for the Reds, scoring 158 times

“They are a team that are fanatically supported worldwide, and it’s been a tough couple of decades for them.

“It must be just great now to go to Anfield now and watch Liverpool and expect to see a good game, expect to see goals, and expect to see real great talent on show.

“It’s just a good time to be a Liverpool fan again. Regardless of whether they win the league or not it’s just great to see that they are back in business.”

To help Michael Owen raise his sponsorship target of £50,000, visit his fundraising page.


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