Michael Owen Defends Daughter Gemma Over Being 'Too Young For Love Island'
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The footballer's daughter, 19-year-old Gemma Owen, joined this year's series of the hit ITV reality show where she quickly sparked conversations about her relationship with 27-year-old Davide Sanclimenti.
While many commenters spoke about the couple's age gap, others focused on Gemma herself, with one describing her as 'too young for a show of this magnitude'.
Another said: "Gemma Owen is either way too young to be on Love Island or is just extremely stuck up."
But her former England striker dad has since spoken in her defence, stating 'she has had two years more than I had to get ready for life in the public eye'.
In a new interview with the Daily Mail, he said: "Also, she’s a mature 19. She’s a bit like me in that regard. I was playing for Liverpool when I was 17, and having to make friends with 23, 24, 25-year-olds.
"The bottom line is, she’s an adult and I have to trust her to make sensible decisions."
That being said, Michael admitted that he struggled to watch his girl - who is the oldest of his four children with wife Louise Bonsall - sharing a bed with someone she hardly knew.
"Luckily for me, there was no physical contact," he said. "Gemma had her back to the guy. There was space between them. I thought, 'Good girl'.
"No father wants to see physical contact, do they? I certainly don’t.
"If there is physical contact I think I’ll be throwing something at the screen. I don’t want to see kissing. Do not make me see kissing!"
He continued: "That was one of the things she was most worried about, the kissing tasks they get set.
"I didn’t know anything about the show, but the worry was that she’d have to kiss this lad and that lad and the next.
"I was away so didn’t see the first episode, but her mum told me there was a possibility she’d have to do a dance - a lap dance or something - which Gemma would have been uncomfortable about.
"But I guess the longer she is in, the more relaxed she will be about that sort of thing."
Although viewers have generally supported Gemma, who works an international dressage rider, she came under fire by the online community for mocking her co-star Luca Bish for his surname on the first night.
Later on, viewers threatened to complain to Ofcom after she kissed Davide Sanclimenti on the show due to their age gap.
Michael opened up about the criticism she has faced online, and when asked whether it's harder to see criticism about her looks or her personality, he said: "Personality. She’s the most amazing girl you could meet.
"She’s clever and funny and kind. She’s not two-faced. She’s loyal, a decent person... she’s still our baby. I’m still my parents’ baby and I’m 42. It’s how it is."