A snapshot of Owen’s illustrious career.
“It is with an immense amount of pride that I am announcing my intention to retire from Professional Football at the end of this season.
Having progressed through the ranks at Liverpool to make my first team debut at 17, before embarking upon spells at Real Madrid, Newcastle United, Manchester United and Stoke City,
not to mention representing my country on 89 occasions, I now feel it is the right time to bring the curtain down on my career.”
[Insert ‘I thought Michael Owen retired years ago’ joke here]
The news that Michael Owen is to retire at the end of this season is sure to attract further derision on the “benchwarming” striker from twitter trolls and sour pundits alike but, jokes aside, Owen can look back on a very fine career with pride.
As a 17-year-old, the Chesire-born youngster burst onto the scene at Anfield, a whippet-quick striker who captured the imaginations of generations of frustrated Liverpool and England fans.
His finest moment on the pitch was surely the stunning solo goal for England against Argentina in World Cup 1998, when he ‘electrified the world’ despite England’s eventual defeat on penalties in the quarter-finals:
Owen scored 179 in 305 appearances at Anfield and, although his memory is somewhat tainted in the eyes of Reds fans after later joining Manchester United, there is no doubt that Owen ranks alongside Robbie Fowler as one of the club’s greatest strikers in the Premier League era.
Winning the Ballon d’Or in 2001 must surely be a career highlight for Owen, who was the first Englishman since Kevin Keegan in 1979 to claim to award.
A move to Real Madrid for the bargain price of £8m followed and although Owen was mainly used from the bench, he still managed 19 goals in 43 appearances in the Spanish capital. There are rumours that the England forward would have played more for Los Blancos had it not been for the malicious influence of Real legend Raul, who was jealous of Owen’s talent and told the club’s hierarchy that he did not want to play alongside him.
Although Owen never bonded with the supporters at St James’ Park and his spell in the north east was plagued by the injuries that consistently hampered his career, he maintained his fine goalscoring record for the Toon, before making the switch to Manchester United.
Just 31 Premier League appearances for Owen in three seasons at Old Trafford led to immense criticism that he was content to warm the bench and collect a pay cheque and it’s true that Owen remained at United for too long. But Sir Alex Ferguson is not a man who accomodates passengers willingly and it’s telling that he never once criticised Owen or attempted to sell the striker.
Owen’s spell at Stoke has again been distrupted by injuries and is ultimately forgettable.
It is with England though that most fans will rememeber Owen. His 40 goals in 89 games rank him fourth of the list of all-time scorers for the Three Lions and, given his tendencies to score goals – and important goals too – wherever he went, there is compelling evidence that he would have broken Bobby Charlton’s record of 49 had he stayed injury-free for longer.