Former Liverpool forward Michael Owen says he joined rivals Manchester United after Rafa Benitez told him he was going to sign someone else.

Owen was leaving Newcastle United in 2009 when he enquired whether the Reds were interested in him.

But Benitez who was the coach at that time had other transfer options on the table.

“I was leaving Newcastle and the first thing I did was phone Carra [Jamie Carragher] and said ‘speak to Rafa Benitez’,” Owen told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“Carra got back to me and said ‘no, he’s about to sign someone’. I think it was David Ngog, but he had already had some great players in the team and basically they didn’t need another centre-forward. What do you want me to do at that point?”

This was the second time the retired striker had pushed for a return to Anfield, having done so four years before when he returned to England.

After his agent had talked with other clubs, the only options that were available were Everton, Hull City and Manchester United.

That’s when Owen decided to join the United in a move that was criticised by some given the rivalry between the Red Devils and his boyhood club.

“As soon as I heard Man Utd were in for me then I thought, obviously first choice would be Liverpool and to go back there but if Liverpool aren’t going to want me and these are all my options then wow, Manchester United in the Champions League, I don’t have to move, I know loads of the lads. It was a brilliant move.

“I couldn’t believe my luck when Manchester United came in for me. Here’s me, regressing as a player in my own mind and still the champions of England wanted to sign me. I was absolutely buzzing when they wanted me,” he said.

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