Michael Owen has thanked England coach Sven Goran Eriksson for helping him to overcome a difficult start to his career at Real Madrid.

Owen was criticised by the Spanish media and was largely confined to the substitutes’ bench in his opening weeks in Spain.

But a good showing for England in the October World Cup qualifying double-header against Wales and Azerbaijan lifted Owen’s spirits.

“It is always good when people support you,” Owen told the Sunday Mirror.

“There are plenty of people out there that don’t so it’s nice the odd person does and that international week with England couldn’t have come at a better time for me.

“It made me look forward to playing 90 minutes as I wasn’t playing for Real as much as I would have liked.

“After two good games and two good wins I was able to go back to Spain with a lot of confidence and I’d say that was the turning point in the season.

“So thank you England, thanks for the fixture list for some perfect timing and thanks to Sven for sticking by me.”