MICHAEL OWEN’S son has bravely opened up on giving up his dream of playing football after being diagnosed with a rare condition.
James Owen was told he had Stargardt disease when he was just eight years old.
James, now 17, was a promising footballer but his dream was over after the diagnosis.
Stargardt disease is a rare genetic condition which currently has no cure and affects a person’s eyesight.
Owen‘s son is now ‘clinically’ blind after his vision got progressively worse during his teens.
James has admitted that people expected him to go into football but he lost the “enjoyment” of the sport as he struggled to see the ball.
He told The Mirror: “I kept playing, but Stargardt’s is a deterioration so after a while it just got to the point where I knew I couldn’t make a career out of it.
“I was starting to… I wouldn’t say get worse but everyone else was getting better.
“I kind of lost enjoyment out of it from that point of view.
“I used to play quite often but I don’t play any more.”
The former Liverpool and Manchester United ace has also spoken about his son’s condition and hailed him for the way he has coped.
Owen admitted that he is often left wanting to change the subject when asked about James’ football journey.
“That’s probably been the hardest thing over the years. James probably wasn’t enjoying football as much as he should have been because he wasn’t as good as he should have been.
“When he was very young and his eyes were probably slightly better than they are now and the pitches were smaller and everything was a lot closer so he could see the ball better, he was very, very good.
“I said to my dad and my wife and everyone ‘he’s got a right chance here of being a footballer’.
“But then as soon as he got diagnosed, he just sort of gradually stopped. He coped with it well.”
The Owens are hoping to raise awareness about Stargardt disease in a documentary called Football is For Everyone.
The programme will air on TNT Spots on January 30 and will show an insight into sight loss and a look at the England Partially Sighted Futsal Team ahead of the 2023 IBSA World Games.