From the publishers of THE HINDU

VOL.32 :: NO.01 :: Jan. 03, 2009

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FOOTBALL

Back on course

Fully fit, Michael Owen is looking to fight his way back into Fabio Capello’s England squad, and add to the 40 goals he has already amassed in 89 appearances for his country.

Despite his father Terry, an ex-professional footballer for clubs such as Everton and Bradford, encouraging his son to enter the boxing ring, England and Newcastle striker Micheal Owen developed an immediate affinity for football.

Playing for his first club, the Mold Alexandra Under-10s, Owen scored 34 goals in 24 games and proved that it was the football pitches where his future would lie.

Owen signed a professional contract with Liverpool following his 17th birthday in December 1996 and only five months later, the fresh-faced striker made his first Barclays English Premier League appearance and scored after coming on as a substitute against Wimbledon.

The following season, Robbie Fowler picked up a thigh injury, and boss Roy Evans gave Owen his big chance, a chance the 18-year-old took with both hands.

He went on to score 18 goals and ended up joint-top scorer in the EPL, also winning the English PFA Young Player of the Year award.

Owen enjoyed an extremely successful spell during his eight years at Liverpool, with the highlight coming in the 2000/01 season where, under Gerard Houllier, he won both the domestic English cup competitions and the UEFA Cup, scoring a brace in the English FA Cup final.

He was also awarded the highly-coveted Ballon d’Or in 2001 and became Liverpool’s highest-ever goal-scorer with 158 goals in 297 appearances.

In 2004, Real Madrid confirmed its interest in Owen and he joined the club for a cut-price GBP8 million in August 2004 as the striker had only one year left on his contract. Owen had a slow start to his Spanish adventure, but managed to break into the star-studded line-up and netted 13 Spanish Primera Liga goals, despite being condemned to mostly cameo substitute appearances.

Newcastle subsequently became Owen’s next career move, thanks to the attraction of regular first-team action, with the English outfit paying a club-record GBP17 million. However, injury setbacks have disrupted his Newcastle career.

Now back fully fit, Owen is looking to fight his way back into Fabio Capello’s England squad, and add to the 40 goals he has already amassed in 89 appearances for his country.

For Owen, the most frustrating period of his career remains his solitary season at Real Madrid when the combination of injuries and lack of opportunity meant a disappointing foray into football in Spain.

With the 2006 World Cup looming, Owen was desperate to secure his position in the England squad and Arrigo Sacchi, Real Madrid’s director of football at the time, admitted: “He asked to leave because we are in World Cup year and here he was not going to play regularly. We didn’t want to let him go and only when a decent offer arrived did we consider selling. It’s clear we have lost something but you can’t keep a player when he wants to go. He is one of the best strikers in the world,” added Sacchi.

Owen married Louise Bonsall, his childhood sweetheart, in Chester on June 24, 2005. They have three children, Gemma Rose, James Michael and Emily May. Owen’s garage currently houses an Aston Martin DB7 Vanquish, Jaguar X-Type, Range Rover V8 Vogue and a Chrysler Voyager and Owen is believed to have shelled out GBP300,000-plus acquiring them.

Factfile

Name: Michael Owen

Position: Striker

Club: Newcastle

D.O.B.: 14/12/1979

England caps: 89

England goals: 40

England debut: v Chile, February 1998

Moment to remember

Trailing in the 2001 English FA Cup final, Owen scored two trademark goals in the final 10 minutes to secure victory for his club Liverpool.

Moment to forget

Being stretchered off in England’s final group game of the 2006 World Cup ranks as a low point for the striker. Owen tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee and was forced to watch as England again failed to live up to its billing and crashed out to Portugal in the quarterfinals. Owen was sidelined for 10 months after undergoing reconstruction surgery.

© PA Sport, 2008, All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, re-written, re-distributed or commercially exploited. Sportstar is not responsible for any inaccuracy in the material.



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