Almost certainly a shoo-in for England’s best player during the 2006 World Cup, Owen Hargreaves was named Man of the Match in the quarter final against Portugal and ended up being England’s only successful penalty taker. He had a great future ahead of him as the anchor of England’s midfield. All that seems a long time ago as injury has taken its toll over the past fifteen months. Strangely he’s still being touted as a potential squad member for next year. Is this realistic or just headline-grabbing space filling by journalists?
I’ll be honest. I really like Hargreaves. His work ethic is excellent, he can pass and tackle, and he is the type of disciplined holding midfielder who can safeguard England’s back four.
I also never bought that ridiculous anti-German criticism which his background and accent prompted. So what if he played in Germany and his voice betrayed a faint European lilt when he spoke. He was a born defensive midfielder and I took to him straightway.
That won’t change. Unfortunately he hasn’t played for a year and is still unable to fully train. Surgery on both knees does that to you. Hargreaves is also lacking confidence, according to his club manager. So he isn’t fit, can’t train yet, and needs to get his head right. The other defensive midfielder, Gareth Barry, is the complete opposite. It all adds up to disappointment for Hargreaves, something no amount of speculation from The Guardian, The Times, the BBC or abroad can hide for long. Sad but true.