Michael Owen made his breakthrough as a prolific youth striker for Liverpool FC and England, and he tells UEFA.com why he is backing the inaugural UEFA Youth League.
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Former Liverpool FC and Real Madrid CF striker Michael Owen told UEFA.com about the rewards on offer to young players featuring in this season's UEFA Youth League.
"It's a great opportunity to test yourself against some of the best clubs and players around Europe," said Owen of the inaugural edition of the Under-19 club competition that will run parallel to the UEFA Champions League. "There are subtleties between different countries – the styles of play. All of these experiences will round you into a better player in the long run. It's a great concept.
"I would have been really excited to play in something like this. Playing against the best players no doubt brings you on as a player and gives you experience to take forward when you become a professional. It will certainly help bridge that gap between the youth and first team."
Having registered 118 Premier League goals for Liverpool and represented the likes of Real Madrid and Manchester United FC, Owen is well-placed to advise the talents of tomorrow. "I think it's important to work on some of your weaknesses but not neglect the things that make you different and stand out from the rest," said Owen, who helped Liverpool win their first ever FA Youth Cup aged 17 and who scored 40 times in 89 England appearances after bursting on to the scene at the 1998 FIFA World Cup.
"In my role I was there to score goals or create goals or whatever would be in an attacking sense, so I think it's important that once you've done your teamwork, you focus on what you're there to do and what you're supposed to do. So I practised a lot of finishing, different runs, speed drills and things like that which focused on my strengths."
To hear more from Owen, click on the video player.