Michael Owen working for Amazon Prime Video in December 2023.

Move over Jake Humphrey, Michael Owen has just redefined ‘High Performance’

The ubiquitousness of Jake Humphrey and the ‘High Performance’ mentality which he espouses with the zeal of a religious convert is a scourge on modern society.

Life for most Britons in 2023 is hard. Living standards are falling, wages are decreasing and nothing seems to work as it should. It feels like the deep, embedded flaws in the Thatcherite revolution of the 1980s have reached their natural conclusion.

In the face of this, Humphrey’s mantra of combatting modern life by getting up at 5am, implementing world-class basics and inane positivity is dangerous.

The ‘High Performance’ cult is effectively a whitewash of society’s inequalities with all the self-awareness of a government minister claiming expenses for their Boots meal deal. Its smugness is a product of its vacuity.

But perhaps there’s another way. Perhaps we should all be taking notes from Michael Owen.

Forget his legendary reputation for dullness – Owen has previously admitted he’s watched less than 10 films in his entire life – the former Liverpool and England striker has revealed a mischievous side that would put Dennis the Menace to shame.

Speaking on the Project Footballer podcast, Owen gave an insight into the origins of his inherent cheekiness.

“Everything was a challenge,” the 43-year-old began. “I’d eat an apple watching the TV at night and the bin would be by the TV about six metres away.

“And I had the bravery to [throw the apple] and miss and for there to be a stain on the wallpaper. My mum would absolutely scream at me and send me upstairs.”

“I wasn’t cocky at all, but the next day I’d do the same. It’d go bump and right in the middle and my dad would give me a nod of approval. My mum would be seething, but couldn’t say anything because it went in.”

“That confidence, that sort of daring, that nod of approval from my dad that I’m desperate for. That was what I yearned for as a kid.”

Steady on, Michael. That’s the kind of talk to leave Humphrey feeling scared for his job.

Owen, for his part, is insistent that the popular perception of him as a personality-free zone is a misguided invention by the mainstream media.

“I am probably the life and soul of the party,” he recently told The Mirror about his Christmas plans. “I’m a right attention seeker.

“It has all got to be about me, if we are hosting, I’m the one starting the games, or dancing on top of the tables.

“If I was going to do a karaoke it would be to something like Summer of 69, or Tracey Chapman Fast Car. I’m not really into that modern stuff. It’s the old classics.

“Apparently, I am quirky. I think I’ve got an image in the world that is very straight, and boring and everything like that. But everyone I meet, they will be like, ‘Oh my God, I so wasn’t expecting you to be like you are.

“I think when I was coming through, when I was 17 or 18, I was managed in a certain way. The press had an image of me they wanted to portray.

“So I was this whiter than white angel. It probably never sat that well with me. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t up to no good. As I say, I never really went to nightclubs and the time, but that image has probably stuck and everyone just thinks I’m boring.

“I think if you ask Gemma or my missus, they’d probably say, ‘bloody hell, the world has got you so wrong’.

Perhaps we’ve all got Owen wrong. Seriously.

His apple-throwing tale reveals an addiction to the kind of edge-of-your-pants living that would’ve made George Best pine for a mug of Horlicks and a cosy night in.

And the bravery it took to risk a b*llocking from his mum for a scrap of fatherly approval indicates the mentality that frightened the life out of Argentina in 1998.

It’s no wonder Owen became the premier cold-blooded poacher of his generation, winning multiple trophies with Liverpool and the Ballon d’Or in 2001, with his singular disregard for rules and convention.

Forget Humphrey and his ‘High Performance’. Owen has shown us all another way.

By Michael Lee

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