England striker Michael Owen has responded to criticism from Azerbaijan coach Carlos Alberto.
The Brazilian was angy that Owen had vowed to score five goals against his team before Wednesday’s World Cup qualifier. But Owen denies making the remark.
“If he checks my pre-match quotes he will realise that I never said anything about scoring five goals – I’d never be so disrespectful,” he said.
“But he’d be perfectly within his rights to criticise my performance – I’ve certainly had better games.”
In a statement Owen added: “Fortunately I am a mentally strong person and believe I will learn from the experience and continue to improve as a player and person because of it.”
England coach, Sven-Goran Eriksson, had already come to the defence of Owen, saying: “From what I know about Michael Owen, he would never say things like that. It’s not his style.
“I’m sorry if there was any misunderstanding.”
Carlos Alberto believed striker Owen had said he was going to beat Malcolm Macdonald’s record of five goals in an England game.
He launched a scathing tirade against the England striker after his side’s 2-0 defeat in Newcastle.
“This man – what’s his name? – the number 10, the small one who doesn’t play in the Real Madrid first team – said that if Poland beat Azerbaijan 8-0, England should score at least eight and he’d score five of them,” said the Brazilian.
“But he must respect everyone. Who is Michael Owen anyway? What has he ever won in football? He plays for Real Madrid but he is always on the bench.
“It is not right for him to say that he can score five goals against Azerbaijan. Where are those five goals tonight?
“I have a history in football but what is the history of this guy, this midget? He ought to clean his tongue and wash the boots of David Beckham as they are so wet tonight.