Michael Owen has admitted that he dived to win England penalties against Argentina in the 1998 and 2002 World Cups.
The game is currently being blighted by playacting and simulation, with Liverpool‘s Luis Suarez at the centre of controversy in the Premier League.
However, the Stoke forward feels that most players that win penalties could stay on their feet, and confessed to past misdemeanours.
“I’d say that 75 per cent of people could stay on their feet when they get challenged for a penalty, and if they get touched and go down it is almost, ‘He got touched, so it’s OK to go down’,” he stated at the Leaders in Football Conference, published in The Telegraph.
“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. Could I have stayed up? Yes probably.
“Then four years later you 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.
“It’s a very difficult subject to talk about, especially to people who have not played the game. There is a major skill in trying to outwit an opponent.
“For the actual player one-against-one, you’re trying to draw people, to commit them, to get into the box because you know as soon as you have got them in the box they are petrified of sticking a leg out or doing anything. It is a skill to get them one-on-one or isolated.
“No one is for blatantly diving, of course they are not, but there is a part of a striker that actually tries to entice the leg to come out to try to win a penalty. It is a skill and it has been done for years and years and I don’t think it will ever leave the game.
“I’m totally against diving, I have never been for it or sought to get a penalty without being touched, but you try to push the boundaries to win a game for your team without cheating,” Owen confessed.
By Gareth McKnight