Owen: Disastrous if England don’t make quarters

Dubai: Former England striker Michael Owen says it would “pretty disastrous” if the Three Lions don’t make the quarter-finals of this summer’s World Cup.

Gareth Southgate’s side have been drawn in Group G alongside Belgium, Tunisia and Panama, and, if successful, face either Colombia, Japan, Senegal or Poland in the Last 16.

“I don’t see England within the top five or six to be honest,” he told Gulf News on the sidelines of the Future Blockchain Summit at Dubai World Trade Centre on Thursday — where he was promoting celebrity cryptocurrency firm GCOX.

“But they’ve been very lucky with the draw and even in the second round we’re playing against only an okay group, so in theory it would be pretty disastrous if we don’t get into the quarter-finals.

“We’ve said that before and got beat by Iceland of course,” he added of England’s Euro 2016 Last 16 exit.

Asked if the players would feel the need to make up for the Iceland loss, the 38-year-old former Liverpool 2001 Ballon D’Or winner — who scored 40 goals in 89 appearances for England between 1998 and 2008 — replied: “You’re always aware of the past but it’s got nothing to do with certain players.

“They will be aware but I think the expectation being low will probably help them as well because we’ve had high expectations over recent years.”

Owen remains the only England player to have scored in four major tournaments, netting at World Cup 1998, Euro 2000, World Cup 2002 and Euro 2004. He also played in World Cup 2006, where he tore his cruciate ligament. During all those tournaments, the 1966 World Cup winners never went further than the Last-Eight.

What Owen is remembered for though, is his breakthrough goal in England’s Last 16 defeat to Argentina at World Cup 1998.

What was going through his head? “When Beckham passed it I was just trying to take a good touch with the outside of my foot to run clear of my man. Once that happened and I lifted my head up, your brain computes pictures every split second, and my eyes just widened. ‘I can score here’ I thought, and that was that. But when I first got the ball I wasn’t thinking goal I was just thinking attack.”