Owen, now with Stoke City, will hang up the boots at the end of the season.
"I always thought if Michael Owen had got the proper development, he would have been an absolute world-class player," said Ferguson.
"But he had a youth tournament in 1997 in Malaysia for a month.
"We had two players in it and gave them a month off when they came back.
"Michael came back and was in the Liverpool team the next week, then played in the World Cup the following summer. You have to develop players physically as well as technically and these tournaments don't always fit."