Michael Owen admits a move to Manchester United was beyond his ‘wildest dreams’ but the striker is determined to prove his doubters wrong.
Doubts may have been expressed about the wisdom of Sir Alex Ferguson signing the free agent but the two men themselves are convinced the deal will be a success.
There is little financial risk to United, who have signed the player on a free transfer, as Owen can no longer command the £110,000-a-week he was on at Newcastle.
He may not be the marquee name fans were hoping for after losing out to Real Madrid in the £30million pursuit of Lyon striker Karim Benzema, with the club also likely to suffer the same fate with Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery.
But at 29, if he can keep himself free from injury, England’s greatest modern-day goalscorer may yet have a significant part to play in United’s history over the course of his two-year contract.
For the player himself it provides one final chance to prove wrong the doubters – England coach Fabio Capello included – who claim he is finished after four years of injury torment at St James’ Park.
United, unlike their other top-four rivals, also present the greatest chance of winning silverware; something Owen has not done since he lifted the League Cup with Liverpool in 2003.
“Manchester United, you automatically think winners, you think trophies, you think the stadium, the massive fan base, but until you sign you don’t really let yourself get carried away,” said Owen.
“There’s so many top players here, obviously it’s a very exciting time for me.
“Right throughout the squad they are obviously a fantastic team with fantastic players, that’s why they’ve all won so much throughout their careers, and hopefully I can jump on the bandwagon, score a few goals, and help us to further success.”
It could be argued that, injuries aside, Owen was never likely to regain his best form playing in a Newcastle team which lurched from one crisis to the next on and off the pitch and ultimately resulted in them being relegated last season.
Having played for Liverpool, where he won European Footballer of the Year in 2001, and Real Madrid, for one brief season, Owen is used to being surrounded by top talent.
Having such high-class support makes his job as a goalscorer so much easier as he does not have to do it all himself.
There were times at Newcastle, particularly in their failed fight against relegation, when it seemed he was carrying the expectations of not only the team but the entire Geordie nation.
At Old Trafford no one individual is held up as a talisman or a savior – highlighted by the £80million sale of Cristiano Ronaldo to Madrid.
With other players to do much of his running and greater creativity around him, Owen has the best environment in which to succeed.
And even he – scorer of 40 goals in 89 England internationals – admits he is excited about playing in the same team as the likes of Wayne Rooney, Dimitar Berbatov and Ryan Giggs.
“A few days ago I never really had it in my wildest dreams,” said Owen, who seemed set to be fought over by Hull and Stoke before Ferguson made his move.
“I probably won’t sleep at night thinking about all the top players I’m going to be playing alongside, so there’s a lot to think about and a lot to get excited about.”
Owen will also benefit from the full backing of Ferguson, having known for some time his new manager was an admirer of his talents.
“In the last few years I had an idea that the manager obviously thought I had something, so I always clung to that hope that he would ask me to come and play for him one day,” he added.
“I’m not silly, I know there will be some people saying maybe the manager shouldn’t have signed me.
“That gradually goes in time and as soon as the first game kicks off, I can do my talking on the pitch.”