Michael Owen last night denied he is an injury-prone liability whose best days are behind him - and vowed to prove his enduring class at Manchester United.
Owen, officially introduced as a United player yesterday following his move from Newcastle on a free transfer, went on the attack when his troubled injury history was put to him.
The former England striker has been a hostage to injury in recent seasons, but the striker, 29, rejected claims he breaks down on a regular basis.
Blackburn boss Sam Allardyce said he did not make a move for Owen because of his injury history, while Wigan chairman Dave Whelan also questioned his ability to stay fit.
"The injury-prone thing gets up my nose more than anything else," said Owen. "Because I don't believe I'm injury-prone.
"Yes, I pick up an injury here and there, but that's the modern-day game, the rigours of the game. It's faster, stronger and quicker than ever.
"Over the last two years I've read that I've been 'plagued with injuries', but the facts don't support that.
"I've played 32 and 33 games in the last two seasons. Newcastle weren't in Europe and didn't have any long Cup runs.
"The Premier League season is only 38 games, so 32 and 33 appearances isn't too bad. The two years prior to that I was injured but they were nothing to do with being injury-prone.
"If someone jumps on your foot and your metatarsal breaks, there's not much you can do. There's a long list of top players who've had that injury.
"And then, foolishly, I tried to rush back to get back fit for the World Cup in 2006.
"I'd just come out of plaster and didn't have the muscle support for the joints. So my knee and those two injuries account for two years.
"But they're not what you would call 'injury-prone' problems. I'm 29 now and I've played over 500 games for club and country, so that says it all." Sir Alex Ferguson clearly does not see the acquisition of Owen as a risk, having signed him on the cheap on a two-year £50,000-a-week deal with built-in incentive payments.
Fergie, having been outbid by Real Madrid who paid £38m for Lyon's Karim Benzema, turned his attention to Owen and backed the veteran striker to vindicate his faith in him.
"Experience is vital and I know Michael will score a lot of goals for us," said Fergie. "He'll give us experience in the penalty box. That's what he's been great at for years and years.
"You've always had to be aware of him in the last third of the pitch and you always knew that he could hurt you because his timing and running was so great.
"He always had that knack of losing defenders in the last third. He had that knack of timing it well.
"We looked at Michael's situation for a few months and mulled it over. Michael knows that. We knew his contract was coming to an end and I still had an intent to bring another player in.
"What confused us was waiting for a decision from Carlos Tevez. That confused as we were not getting any answers.
"It put us in quite a quandary in terms of what we should actually do. We waited long enough.
"We tried to get Benzema but as soon as that dropped through we went for Michael."
Owen admitted he has a point to prove at United after a doomed season at Real Madrid and four years of underachievement at Newcastle.
"Obviously I feel as if I belong at a top club," said Owen, who embarks with the United squad on their pre-season tour of the Far East on Thursday.
"There were a few good clubs showing interest but when United came in all the other talks were put on hold and the deal was wrapped up virtually straight away.
"I know I'm hungry to do well. If this challenge doesn't create a hunger and put a spring in your step and put a smile on your face, then nothing will.
"I'm as hungry as ever and the fact that Sir Alex and a club like United have come in for me says it all in my opinion.
"With a full pre-season preparation I believe I can give it a good go this season and stay fit."