By Matt B
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Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher has pleaded with fans attending his testimonial not to direct abuse towards former team-mate Michael Owen, who will be playing in the charity match on Saturday.
Owen left Liverpool in 2004 to sign for Real Madrid and then later Newcastle, but was still widely regarded as an Anfield goalscoring legend after netting 158 goals in 297 games for the Merseysiders.
However, a move to bitter rivals Manchester United on a free transfer in the summer of 2009 saw the striker become a hate figure among Liverpool fans and he was subject to a torrent of boos when United visited Anfield last October.
But Carragher, who played with Owen for eight years at Liverpool, insists that while his former team-mate's arrival at Old Trafford "upset some people", it was a move necessary to try to resurrect his foundering career.
"He left in difficult circumstances, but when he went to Manchester United, his career was on a bit of a downward spiral and he'll admit that himself," Carragher said.
"So the chance to go to one of the biggest clubs in the world was difficult to turn down. He moved and upset some people, but he had to do what was right for himself and his family.
"His kids were just starting school and he wanted to move back home so that came into it as well."
And Carragher believes that Owen deserves a rapturous welcome from the Anfield faithful when he lines up in a Liverpool shirt against an Everton XI for Carragher's benefit game.
"I think he deserves a great one [reception] for what he did for Liverpool," Carragher said. "He was a fantastic player, right up there with the greats for what he did."
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