Furious Michael Owen rejects 'diver' headlines on Twitter

Michael Owen England v Argentina 1998

Striker draws a line between diving and going to ground, but Suarez doesn't care

LAST UPDATED AT 10:55 ON Thu 11 Oct 2012

AS THE moral outrange and hand-wringing over diving in football continues, former England striker Michael Owen has angrily denied claims that he dived to win penalties for his country at the World Cup.

The Stoke player described headlines saying he had admitted diving were "disgraceful" and added: "Not for the first time, I feel a bit let down by the British press."

But the 32-year-old was the author of his own misfortune when he answered a question about diving at an event at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday. He said that 75 per cent of people could stay on their feet when challenged in the box but choose to go down, him included.

"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," he revealed. "Could I have stayed up? Yes probably. Then four years later [referee Pierluigi Collina] gave me a penalty again 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."

That prompted a slew of headlines suggesting that Owen had admitted to diving. The Mirror even praised his comments. "Owen's honesty, at a time when many players and bosses hum the party line, was refreshing," it said.

But Owen was livid at his portrayal as a diver this morning and took to Twitter to set the record straight. But his argument illustrated the complexity of the debate over simulation.

Owen drew a line between diving and going down under a challenge in a volley of messages on the social networking site. "To clarify: I have never dived to win a penalty without being touched. I don't condone it and I think it should be stamped out of the game," he said in one post. "I have, however, gone down, WHEN FOULED, when I could have stayed on my feet," he explained in another.

"Very few tackles are delivered with the force required to knock somebody off their feet," he went on. "It is an art for an attacking player to entice a defender to make a wrong decision."

Meanwhile Liverpool striker Luis Suarez, the man at the centre of the debate, fanned the flames further by insisting that he does not care about the debate raging around him.

"Any manager can say what he wants about me but it doesn't affect me," he said, according to the Daily Mail. "I am not worried about what they say. Let them carry on talking.". · 

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