Few players were more popular at Anfield than Michael Owen in 2004, until he left the club for Real Madrid in an £8 million move which left some with a bitter taste, made only worse by his decision to later join Manchester United.
However, the former England international has revealed that it was a Liverpool legend who inspired him to make the move, believing that he could one day return to Anfield.
“I blame Rushie (Ian Rush) because I looked at him and was thinking ‘he went to Juventus for a year and came back and that’s perfect.’ I was convincing myself that I could just go for a year or two and then come back. And that’s, in the end, how I made the decision because I was tossing and turning,” he told the Liverpool Echo.
Instead, it never materialised for the forward, who returned to the Premier League by joining Newcastle United and would go on to play for Manchester United and Stoke City before retiring.
The relationship of many Liverpool fans with Owen remains stretched to say the least, though it is clear that Owen was always hopeful that he would one day be able to become a fan favourite on Merseyside again.
With Rafa Benitez in charge, the move never materialised despite speculation and Owen never managed to repeat the feats of Rush, who scored 346 goals across two spells at the club.
Fans may now have to decide whether to forgive Owen or not, given that he continues to insist that he did not plan to sour relationships in the way that he did with his exit.