So, Michael Owen has announced that he shall retire from football in May. The England striker has had a distinguished career in the Barclays Premier League having started his career off with Liverpool, he went on to play for Newcastle United followed by a brief spell in La Liga with Real Madrid in between, before moving to Manchester United in the summer of 2009.
The Chester-born forward, now playing for Stoke, has accumulated an impressive number of accolades both for his clubs as well as individually. None more so than winning football’s prestigious Ballon D’or award in 2001, beating the likes of then Real Madrid striker and Spain legend Raul alongside the man mountain that was Bayern Munich and Germany goalkeeper Oliver Kahn.
However, in recent years a string of injuries have limited Owen to appearances for both club and country with him failing to add to his 89 caps and 40 goals for the Three Lions. It seems that the succession of injuries, triggered by the serious knee injury in the 2-2 draw with Sweden in the 2006 World Cup, have finally pushed Owen towards retirement at the age of 33.
It is sad to see how one of the most natural, and once feared poachers of the modern era has slipped down the glass mountain in years gone by. Since the 2006 world cup his career has stopped and started again more times than your first car, stuttering along in more hope than expectation. If you take a look at the England team that destroyed Germany 1-5 in 2001, in which Owen got a hat-trick. Six of the eleven that played that day are still trundling along with no signs of them stopping, those six being Rio Ferdinand, Ashley Cole, Paul Scholes, Steven Gerrard, David Beckham and of course Emile Heskey. These players are veterans of the game and all of them, bar Heskey, still playing at some of Europe’stop clubs, Owen has become one of those players who, when you having an idle chat with your mate down the pub will crop up and the response will be: “He’s never fit.”
Having said that, lest we forget that overall, Michael Owen has had a stunning career. No England fan will ever forget when he first came to the attention of the world with that mesmerizing goal against Argentina in the 1998 World Cup. After he slalomed past Argentine defenders right and left before a finish of the highest quality, leaving goalkeeper Carlos Roa stranded. Michael Owen had arrived and was clearly no flash in the pan still being the only England player to score in four consecutive major tournaments (World cup 98’ & 02’ and Euro 00’ & 04’).
Poetry in motion
The young Englishman created poetry in motion when he took to the field, effortlessly gliding past defenders, holding them off with deceiving strength, eluding his marker with clever movement before slotting home an accurate finish. He had the world at his feet and was holding his own with the numerous other forwards in the Premier League whose reputations were rapidly increasing, Thierry Henry springs to mind.
Owen has won an impressive array of silverware. However, for a striker of such calibre it is surprising he did not win much more than he has with the Holy Grail of the UEFA Champions League missing from his CV as well as just the one Premier League title to his name. This could be a bitter pill to swallow for the former Liverpool striker he’ll walk away from the game never lifting the big-eared trophy and holding it aloft whilst 20,000 Liverpool fans deliver a rapture of screams. Perhaps it just was not meant to be for him. Never mind, Owen is too busy getting into Twitter wars with Piers Morgan and becoming Racing Post’s new tipster to worry about winning trophies and extending his legacy, excuse the cynical tone.
The young boy who scored the wonder goal against the Argentines is long gone. Now all that is left is the berated figure of a striker who has lost his explosive pace. His consistent ability to have defenders waking up in the dead of night in a cold sweat after a torrid day in which a young Michael Owen had been their worst nightmare has now deserted him. In a couple of months Michael Owen will close the chapter on what has been a superb playing career overall. Owen will never lose his status as one of England’s greats but we’ll be left forever wondering had he not sustained such cruel injuries what he might have achieved in the game.
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