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 April 17, 2002 | 1140 IST

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Owen surprised to be England captain

Liverpool striker Michael Owen described being made England captain as "a complete surprise" after coach Sven-Goran Eriksson handed him the job for Wednesday's friendly against Paraguay.

"It's obviously a great honour to have been named for this match," said Owen at England's training camp on Tuesday.

"When the manager told me I was obviously straight on the phone to my mum and dad and close friends and family. It was a very proud moment.

"It was a complete surprise to me...but a pleasant surprise."

At 22, Owen becomes the second youngest player to captain England after 1966 World Cup-winning captain Bobby Moore.

He gets his chance after regular captain David Beckham was ruled out of the Paraguay game -- which is being played on Owen's club ground at Anfield -- with a broken bone in his foot.

Asked how much experience of being captain he had, Owen said: "Five minutes!"

The Liverpool striker explained he had taken the captain's armband once at the end of a UEFA Cup game in Spain against Valencia in November 1998 after skipper Paul Ince and vice-captain Steve McManaman had been sent off.

Owen also said he had captained England's youth side but said: "I've never led a team out as a full Liverpool or England player."


"To get it at 22 is a bit sooner than I imagined but it's going to be a great occasion and I'm very proud."

He added: "It's something I've always dreamed of. I thought the best chance was later on in my career."

Owen has no illusions over the armband, which has reached him only due to injury.

"I'm not expecting to keep it, obviously," he said. "David Beckham is the captain of England and who knows, if Rio Ferdinand or Sol Campbell had been in the squad, I might not be sitting here."

As for his captaincy style, he said: "I'm not going to be the type of captain that shouts and bawls, like certain ones. David Beckham's not that type, he's more of a leader on the pitch in his performances and I think and hope I can be more of the same of that tomorrow."

Owen said he was not conscious of being an ambassador, as described by Eriksson moments earlier, in the sense of looking after his image both on and off the pitch.

"I want to be a top-class footballer so I live the life that tries to enable me to be that type of player," he said "Off the pitch I try to do things the right way, to enable me to play well on the pitch.

"There's no hidden thing that I try to be a clean-cut kind of person," Owen insisted. "It's other people that see me as that."

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