March 19, 2013 by thedavidryan
Michael Owen set to retire
Earlier this morning Stoke City and former England international striker Michael Owen announced his long expected retirement from football at the end of the current Premier League season.
While Michael Owen has come under criticism in recent years due to his seemingly never ending battle with injuries, there is no doubt the diminutive Chester native has left an undeniable impression on the game.
A boyhood Everton fan, Michael Owen burst onto the scene as a shy yet promising prospect of the Liverpool FC youth academy and it wasn’t long before the timid rookie took the Premier League by storm.
Michael Owen scored on his Liverpool debut on 6th May 1997 against Wimbledon at Selhurst Park. Liverpool were league title challengers to Manchester United at the time, but their inability to defeat Wimbledon in the penultimate game of the league season handed the championship to United.
Success at Liverpool wasn’t far away for Michael Owen though, as he notched up an impressive FA Cup, two League Cups, FA Community Shield, UEFA Cup and the UEFA Super Cup while on Merseyside.
Owen enjoyed an esteemed international career too, bursting into prominence with the now legendary individual goal he scored against Argentina in the 1998 World Cup Finals.
Arguably his finest hour in an England shirt though was the 2001 dismantling of Germany in Munich. England triumphed to a 5-1 victory over the Germans, with the white hot Owen bagging a terrific hat-trick in one of England’s finest performances.
While international success never came to fruition during Michael Owen’s England tenure, the end of the 20th century saw Owen hit his peak as he claimed a whole host of top individual club football awards. In 1998 he was named BBC Sports Personality of the Year and PFA Young Player of the Year. He also took home two consecutive Golden Boot Awards from 1997 to 1999 as he quickly rose to be one of Europe’s most elite strikers.
It was in 2001 however where Michael Owen received his most prestigious honour; the Ballon d’Or. Owen beat other global superstars such as Raúl, David Beckham and Francesco Totti to the prize as the Liverpool lad was at the very top of world football.
Michael Owen eventually left Liverpool for spells at Real Madrid and Newcastle United. While both stints were relatively uneventful honours wise, Owen would begin his longstanding relationship with the treatment room at both clubs. After fizzling out at Newcastle United it was his shock signing to long time Liverpool rivals Manchester United in 2009, which saw a now maturing Owen, take on the role as bit part player.
Michael Owen would eventually take home a Premier League winners medal as part of the Red Devils in 2011. However, his most iconic moment for Manchester United was against their ‘noisy neighbours’ Manchester City in a fierce derby match, as Owen would score a last second winner which saw Manchester United win the bragging rights and eventual Premier League crown.
Regrettably, Michael Owen left Manchester United as a free agent in 2012 before signing for mid table side Stoke City in a pay as you play deal. However, years of niggling injuries once again hampered Michael Owen to only a handful of appearances for the Potters. Sadly mother time inevitably caught up with the 33 year old, as even a fit and healthy Michael Owen was unable to break into the Stoke City starting eleven as the former dangerous hitman edged ever closer to the end of his career.
As a result it comes as no surprise that after a tremendously successful playing career, the former England international has called time on a career that has spanned five clubs, eighty nine international appearances and a plethora of silverware.
So what legacy has Michael Owen left on the beautiful game? In an era filled with Galactico’s and David Beckham pretty boy footballers, Michael Owen was very much a meat and potatoes kind of player. Soft spoken, humble and introverted, the Cheshire local enjoyed the spotlight on the pitch and not in the tabloids. While many may feel he lacked charisma, it is unquestionable that Michael Owen did his most important talking on the pitch.
While Michael Owen may not go down as one the world’s most significant football players, it is certain that if he is remembered for nothing else, he will forever be remembered for that special night in Munich.