Michael Owen has called his seven year stint at Liverpool the ‘favourite’ part of his career and thinks he was past his best by the age of 21.
The forward became just the fourth Englishman to be crowned the best player in the world when he won the 2001 Ballon d’Or, following in the footsteps of Sir Stanley Matthews, Sir Bobby Charlton and Kevin Keegan.
The award topped of a brilliant season for Liverpool, which saw them lift the UEFA Cup, the FA Cup and the League Cup.
Owen ended the season with 24 goals in all competitions, prompting him to be awarded the Ballon d’Or ahead of Spanish striker Raul and German goalkeeper Oliver Kahn.
However, the man himself believes he was at the peak of his powers a few years earlier and admits his time at Liverpool was the best spell of his career.
“Without a doubt it’s the favourite part of my career,” he told his former Liverpool team-mate and close friend Jamie Carragher on ‘The Greatest Game’ podcast.
“It’s the only part of my career where I was at my best.
“As much as I’m proud of my career and how long it lasted considering the injuries I had.
“At 18 I thought I was the best player in the world and ironically I was voted the best player in the world at 21 when I was definitely 20% down on what I was two or three years ago.
“When I won the Ballon d’Or I was still a top player but there is no question about it, I was on the decline.
“At 21 I was on the decline.”