Michael Owen is one of the best strikers the Premier League has produced, and has played for some of the world’s biggest clubs in Liverpool, Real Madrid, Newcastle United and Manchester United.
But his decision to sign for Sir Alex Ferguson’s United side in 2009 made him unpopular with fans on Merseyside. And it is sad that a once friendly rivalry between the two most famous clubs in Britain has become so hostile in the modern era.
Owen is one of only a handful of players to have turned out for both clubs since the war.
He shot to fame as a young superstar when he scored an amazing goal for England against Argentina in the 1998 World Cup. And at the time he was worshipped by his fans on Merseyside.
He made 297 appearances for Liverpool, scoring 158 goals between 1996 and 2004.
Five years later, in the twilight of his career, Owen made 49 appearances for Manchester United between 2009 and 2012, scoring 17 goals.
Phil Chisnall is the last player to be transferred directly between the two clubs, joining Liverpool from United in 1964.
Though the pair are fierce competitors now, it was quite different in the 1960s. Bill Shankly, a huge admirer of United, was only just laying the foundations for Liverpool. While United had already been a dominant force for some time.
In 2013, Chisnall told the Liverpool Echo: “It amazes me that no player has moved since. But the rivalry was not the same then. Liverpool were champions in 1964, but they were only promoted in 1962 and United were a much bigger club.”
Manchester United: 1959 – 1964 (47 appearances, 10 goals)
Liverpool: 1964 – 1967 (9 appearances, 2 goals)
Paul Ince had a two year gap between playing for Manchester United and Liverpool, arriving at Anfield from Inter Milan in a four million plus pound deal in 1997.
A powerful and uncompromising midfielder, Ince enjoyed the best years of his career as a central part of Alex Ferguson’s first great Manchester United team. Ever present in the inaugural Premier League season in 1992/1993, he was a domestic double the following year.
Ince was sold to Inter in 1995, when a new generation of young players came to the fore at Old Trafford. When he finally arrived at Anfield, his spell coincided with a disappointing slump for the club, and in the summer of 1999 he was recruited by an ambitious Middlesbrough for £1m at the age of 31.
Manchester United: 1989 – 1995 (277 appearances, 28 goals)
Liverpool: 1997 – 1999 (81 appearances, 17 goals)
Peter Beardsley never quite made the grade at Manchester United, but became a big hero at Liverpool when he joined the Merseysiders following a two million pound move from Newcastle United in 1987.
Given all he achieved in a Liverpool, Everton, Newcastle and England shirt, people often forget that Peter Beardsley spent part of his early career struggling at Manchester United after signing from Canadian side Vancouver Whitecaps in the autumn of 1982. Beardsley cost United £250,000, not an insignificant fee in those days. But the youngster was unable to break into the side and returned to Canada after just one solitary League Cup appearance.
The forward was soon back in England, joining Newcastle where he spent four successful years and scorings 61 goals in 147 games before Liverpool came calling. An important part of the last great Reds team, Beardsley picked up two league winner’s medals and an FA Cup at Anfield., before moving across the city to Everton in 1991.
Manchester United: 1982 – 1983 (1 appearance, 0 goals)
Liverpool: 1987 – 1991 (175 appearances, 59 goals)
Michael Owen – Sheffield Wednesday v Liverpool, 1997/98