Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 23 November 2014

Hargreaves happy to bide his time

Owen Hargreaves says he will not consider a playing future in the lower leagues
Owen Hargreaves says he will not consider a playing future in the lower leagues

Owen Hargreaves is refusing to contemplate life in the lower leagues, which could well signal the end of his playing career.

After being released by Manchester City following what ultimately turned out to be a fruitless year with the Blues, Hargreaves has opted to take a year out. For a player who has struggled so badly with injuries since the 2008 Champions League final, it does not appear the wisest career move, particularly as the 31-year-old insists he is fit.

However, always a deep thinker, Hargreaves is prepared to go against the conventional wisdom of extending his playing career as long as he can, with an alternative career in media or coaching also holding strong appeal. "There are lots of different paths I can go down," he said.

"All the ex-pros have said 'you are too young to retire' but there is a big chapter after football and it might be best to focus on chapter two than hang on to chapter one. This year I just took a step back and decided not to play. I am fit, so I understand I may never play again. I am fine with that. You don't get all you want.

"One thing I won't consider is going down the leagues. I have played Champions League every year of my career so I am not doing that."

Hargreaves has made just 12 appearances since helping Manchester United to win the 2008 Champions League as he finally gave way to a tendinitis problem in both knees that required groundbreaking knee surgery.

Sir Alex Ferguson eventually decided Hargreaves was not in the right frame of mind to ever recover the form that made him England's stand-out player at the 2006 World Cup. And, after early promise, Roberto Mancini eventually reached the same conclusion.

Hargreaves does not give the impression of being overly bothered by such opinions, and insists he is only concerned with the future.

"I feel blessed," he said. "I was privileged. Up to the age of 27 had as good a career as anyone in Europe.

"Overall, I won two Champions Leagues and five or six titles. I represented England, I played with great players like Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and David Beckham. It was an honour for me and my family. I have had loads of offers to do different things but it has got to be the right fit with the right coaches."

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