Michael Owen last night admitted he could have stayed on his feet when he won penalties against Argentina at the 1998 and 2002 World Cups, but insisted he did not "dive". The striker said three-quarters of players who go down in the penalty box after contact with a defender could stay on their feet, but part of the skill of being a striker was luring your opponent into conceding a penalty. This, he made clear, was different to simulating contact which he did not condone.
"I'd say that 75 per cent of people could stay on their feet for a penalty, and if they get touched and go down it is almost, 'he got touched so it's OK to go down'," said Owen. "I have been guilty as well. I played at the 1998 World Cup against Argentina and I was running flat out, got a nudge, went down. Could I have stayed up? Yes probably."
That was in St Étienne , in a round of 16 tie. Alan Shearer scored from the spot-kick but England went out on penalties. Owen was speaking at Leaders in Sport at Stamford Bridge where he was sharing a platform with Pierluigi Collina. Turning to the Italian former referee Owen added: "Four years later you gave me a penalty against Argentina. Again I could have stayed on my feet – the defender's caught me and I did have a decent gash down my shin from it, but I could have stayed up." In both cases the defender made contact with Owen and he added: "There is a major skill in trying to outwit an opponent. In a one-against-one you're trying to draw people, to commit them. I'm totally against diving, I have never sought to get a penalty without being touched, but you try to push the boundaries to win a game for your team without cheating."Reuse content