- Special Pages
LONDON: Former England striker Michael Owen announced yesterday that he will bring down the curtain on his professional career at the end of the current season.
The 33-year-old scored 40 goals in 89 appearances for England and won the prestigious Ballon d’Or in 2001, but the latter years of his career were disrupted by injuries.
Following a three-year stint at Manchester United, he joined Stoke City last year but has barely played since arriving at the Britannia Stadium. He announced his retirement on his personal website, writing: “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.”
Owen exploded onto the global scene at the 1998 World Cup in France when he scored a famous solo goal against Argentina at the age of just 18. He scored 158 goals in 297 appearances for Liverpool, his formative club, but his career lost momentum after he joined Real Madrid in 2004.
Unable to make an impression in Spain, he returned to England with Newcastle the following year, but he became plagued by injuries that ultimately curtailed his England career.
His spell at Manchester United yielded his first Premier League winner’s medal, in 2011, but he was only ever used as a back-up player and left the club when his contract expired last year.
“I have been very fortunate in that my career has taken me on a journey that like many young players starting out, I could only have dreamt of,” Owen added. “None of this would have been possible without the tremendous support I have received from managers, coaches, fellow players, back room staff, the supporters and my own personal sponsors.”
He went on to thank his family, including his father, Terry Owen, who was also a professional footballer.
“We did it my old mate!” Owen wrote. “From those freezing local parks to terrorising the best defenders in the World on the biggest stages of all. I couldn’t have done it without you.”
As a schoolboy, Owen scored goals at a prolific rate and joined Liverpool at the age of 12. He scored on his professional debut at Wimbledon in 1997 and finished as the joint-top scorer in the Premier League in his first two full seasons.
The 2000-01 campaign was Owen’s most accomplished.
He scored two late goals as Liverpool came from behind to beat Arsenal in the FA Cup final and also played a key role in his side’s successes in the League Cup and the UEFA Cup.
As a result, he became the first English player to be named European Footballer of the Year since Kevin Keegan in 1979.
After an ultimately unsuccessful spell at Real Madrid, he returned to England in 2005, joining Newcastle for a club-record fee of £16.8m ($25.4m, 19.6m euros).
Following a promising start, he broke his foot on New Year’s Eve in 2005 and then sustained a serious knee ligament injury at the following year’s World Cup in Germany.
Newcastle were relegated in 2009 and Owen joined Manchester United, netting a famous injury-time winner in a 4-3 win over derby rivals Manchester City shortly after arriving.
He scored only 17 goals in his three years at Old Trafford, however, and has scored just once since arriving at Stoke last year.
One of his most memorable games for England saw him net a hat-trick in a 5-1 win over Germany in September 2001, and he seemed destined to break Bobby Charlton’s national scoring record of 49 goals.
However, having earned his last cap in March 2008, he was unable to rise any higher than fourth place in the England scoring charts.