Owen Hargreaves has rubbished suggestions that his Manchester United career is finished and says he has the mental and physical toughness to return in time for this summer’s FIFA World Cup finals in South Africa. The Canadian-born midfielder, sidelined for 18 months with tendonitis, is due to play in United’s reserve team fixture against Burnley tonight.
Speaking to The Telegraph, Hargreaves says that recovery from a double knee operation has been long and tough. Hargreaves’ last match for United came in September 2008.
“I could never have imagined in my darkest dreams something like this would happen to me,” the former Bayern Munich player told the Daily Telegraph.
“My athletic ability has taken me everywhere I wanted to go, from Canada to Germany, playing for England, playing for Man United. To have that temporarily taken away is humbling.”
Hargreaves blames poor rehabilitation from a broken leg sustained in the early part of his career at Bayern for creating the persistent tendonitis that world-renowned surgeon Dr. Richard Steadman described as resembling “a bomb that had gone off” in the international’s knees.
But the midfielder rejects suggestions that he isn’t tough enough to make a return after Sir Alex Ferguson labeled Hargreaves delayed comeback as one of “confidence”.
“Injuries take time. It’s not a question of can I go into a 50-50? I wouldn’t hesitate in the slightest. It’s more about managing my training, making sure I don’t do too much. If I play, shall I do 30 minutes? 40 minutes? Only I can feel it. If you have had double knee surgery you’re going to feel it,” added Hargreaves.
“I used to compete with my older brothers, who were physically stronger so I had to grind a bit. Obviously I had a lot of natural athletic ability but my competitiveness is probably my biggest attribute.
“The youth coach who brought me to Germany when I was 16 said to me after six or seven months: ‘What are you going to do when you go back to Canada?’ He wanted to rile me. I was defiant. ‘In a few years, I’ll be playing first team.’ I believed in myself.”
Hargreaves will play for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s reserve team fixture ato wat Burnley tonight. The tie takes place at Altrincham’s Moss Lane – get down if you can!