When you think of Michael Owen in his prime, you remember one of the best finishers of his generation. Blessed with abundance of pace and a deadly poacher’s instinct, Owen was most definitely an outstanding finisher and goal scorer. An intelligent striker that loved to play off the shoulder of the last defender. It was a skill that saw him score lots of goals. Sadly, yesterday he announced his retirement from the beautiful game after constant battle with persistent injuries and fitness.
- Michael Owen’s football journey started with his first club Liverpool where he made his senior debut against Wimbledon in May 1997 aged just 17. However, it was a year later in the FIFA world cup in 1998 that he announced himself properly on the world stage under the floodlights at the Stade Geoffroy-Guichard in Saint-Etienne on June 30, 1998. England were up against their great rivals Argentina in the round of 16 in the world cup. Trailing courtesy of a Gabriel Batistuta penalty for the Argies, England bounced back to equalize when they were awarded a penalty of their own duly dispatched by Alan Shearer. Then came the moment football lovers will always remember Owen by. Collecting a pass from David Beckham, Owen showed the kind of poise that was the forte of more experienced strikers and went on to utilize his pace to waltz past seasoned defenders Jose Chamot and Roberto Ayala before slotting home calmly to beat a hapless Roberto Ayala in goal for Argentina to make it 2-1 to England. Though the three Lions went on to lose that game in a penalty shootout after Javier Zanetti again equalized for Argentina and THAT red card to David Beckham, Owen’s time had surely come. It was an incredible performance that night that even Cesare Maldini, coach of Italy and father of the great Paolo, declared, “Where have England been hiding this boy? With such a player, you could beat the world.”
He went on to make 89 appearances for the three Lions scoring 40 goals and is fourth in the all time scorers list behind Sir Bobby Charlton, Gary Lineker and Jimmy Greaves in an England shirt and after a career playing for great clubs like Liverpool, Real Madrid and Manchester United and not forgetting Newcastle and presently Stoke City, few can argue the talent Owen possessed when he was fit. A talent that saw him win the European footballer of the year in 2001 becoming the first English man to win that Honour after Kevin Keegan did in 1979.
- Many football pundits would point to the knee ligament injury Owen suffered against Sweden in the 2006 World Cup as the major injury that blighted his career but we can also point to numerous hamstring setbacks an injury which is unsurprising due to his frightening pace. Sadly, when Owen lost his pace due to his injuries he became a shadow of himself and his confidence was badly affected. Now he his ending his career on the bench of Stoke City after scoring just once in seven appearances.
However, it is the fond memories we want to remember Owen by and there are some lovely ones. THAT goal against Argentina in ’98, scoring a hattrick against Germany in Munich in ’01, scoring twice in the FA cup final in ’01 to beat Arsenal, his beautiful goal against Brazil in the Q/final of the 2002 world cup and of course his injury time winner for Manchester United in the Manchester derby in 2009. We can look back at his playing career with a tinge of sadness wondering how far he could have gone and what more he could have achieved without his injury troubles. Footynyx. Goal machine: Owen’s record
1996-04 Liverpool (158 gls/297 gms)
2004-05 Real Madrid (14gls/40gms)
2005-09 Newcastle (30gls/79gms)
2009-12 Man United (17gls/52gms)
2012-13 Stoke City (1gls/7gms)
1998-2008 40 goals, 89 caps
2001 FA Cup, League Cup, Uefa Cup
2003 League Cup
2010 League Cup
2011 Premier League