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'Zidane was the best player I ever played with' | Michael Owen on his tenure at Real Madrid

Of all of the phenomenal players that Liverpool and England legend Michael Owen has played alongside, none of them compare to Zinedine Zidane.

'Zidane was the best player I...

'Zidane was the best player I ever played with' | Michael Owen on his tenure at Real Madrid

Of all of the phenomenal players that Liverpool and England legend Michael Owen has played alongside, none of them compare to Zinedine Zidane.

Owen burst onto the Premier League scene as a teenager for Liverpool. With his pace and ability to beat the goalkeeper one-on-one, he was one of the most talented youngsters of his era.

At the age of 21, Owen won the Ballon d'Or, and cemented himself as a truly great finisher. However, he believes that one of his teammates later in his career was the best player he ever played alongside.

Owen moved to Real Madrid in 2004, and played a single season alongside French superstar Zidane. He believes that there was no other player quite like Zizou.

'He was born to be a footballer'

Speaking at the OTB Roadshow in Vicar Street, Owen looked back on his time at Real Madrid and watching Zidane in training and on the pitch.

"Zidane was the best player I ever played with," Owen said. "He was absolutely born to be a footballer.

"You know when you're a kid and you've got the football at the end of a string, it just keeps coming back to you? It was like he played with an invisible string.

"No matter what, it was always the same distance away from him. If a ball comes into my chest, you chest it and wait for it to drop and you take another touch and you're off.

"He would just have this amazing [instinct], if a ball came round his ear or anywhere, he could just take it into the direction he wanted to in one touch and it would be in perfect control."

For Owen, what made Zidane so special was his all-round skill and attributes. He was a complete footballer.

"He was incredible," Owen said. "Left foot, right foot, he was so fast, so strong. He could do a Cruyff turn out of a little hole and burst away. The strength of the guy as well."

'I was petrified of Zidane'

Owen joined Real Madrid in 2004. At the time, Zidane was one of the mainstays of the Madrid XIs, and a leader in the dressing room.

However, nobody seemed to prepare Owen for just how Zidane operated at the training ground.

"I was quite scared of him to be honest," Owen said. "When I first walked in, he's got these really deep eyes. As soon as I walked in, Zidane... used to just sit there.

"Everyone else was playing keepy-ups or whatever. He would just sit there for half an hour just staring at everyone. I thought when I first came in there he must hate me, he just stared at me the whole way.

"I was petrified of him for the first month or two until I realised he did it to everyone. But he was just incredible!"

'Mythical' Real Madrid

Owen joined Madrid during its Galácticos era, joining the likes of Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos, Raúl, Luís Figo, Zinedine Zidane and his England teammate David Beckham.

While he was no stranger to being involved in star-studded teams, Owen recalled the moment it sunk in that he was playing alongside such superstars.

"It is just a magical, mythical team," Owen said. "I had some great times. Scoring in El Clásico. I will always remember, I was sat in the players' lounge afterwards, and all my family had come over to watch the game.

"We were in the players' lounge, the TVs were rolling and we were having a drink afterwards. My dad was sat right next to me.

"The goals went in, and Eto'o and Ronaldinho were the two scorers for Barcelona. Zidane, Ronaldo, Raúl and Owen were the four scorers for us.

"We'd watched the goals go in, and once the goals were finished the graphics came up: Real Madrid 4, Barcelona 2 and the goal scorers underneath.

"It was only then I realised, 'Jesus look at those six goal scorers!' I nudged my dad, and he looked at me and went: 'I think you made a good decision there'."


In partnership with Cadbury FC with ticket sale proceeds going towards supporting Irish Women’s grassroots football. T&Cs apply.

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