Past Players: Volume 4 - Michael Owen

There was a time for Liverpool fans when the name "Michael Owen" was uttered, we felt proud. Nowadays however, after the Liverpool starlet went from Anfield to Bernabeu to St James' Park and then to Old Trafford, feelings have somewhat changed.

I've been meaning to do a past players post on Michael Owen for months, partly because i can start by voicing my own opinions on the saga but secondly because it's a real talking point it would be great to hear some of your thoughts in the comments or on Twitter.

As a 21 year old, i grew up with Michael Owen, from the stupid childhood crush to the amazement at his pace and ability to weave through defences, he was my idol. Back then he epitomized what Liverpool FC was to me, i loved him so much i named my pet rabbit after him, i afterwards found out the rabbit was female though poor bunny.

My brothers room was plastered with Michael Owen posters and i think it's safe to say he was my first ever favourite player. I find it hard to disregard his talent at the top of his game and in the years that Michael was at Liverpool FC he was arguably the best in the world.

For these reasons i don't fall into the category of fans that now actually hate the ex forward. I can totally see and understand their reasons and many fans were already angered by Owen's money grabbing move to Real Madrid before his United move even came about.

The less said about Manchester United the better but it's bad enough when an ex player moves to a rival let alone when it's them. I still can't really understand why he went ahead with the deal, aside from cash. If he wanted football he knew he'd barely play at United and with offers or interest from Villa and City i think at the time if he'd of held out he may have still been sparking up the Premier League as we speak.

So let's get to it...

The Basics
Full Name: Michael James Owen
Date Of Birth: 14th December 1979
Born in: Chester
Height: 5'7"
Position: Forward


Liverpool

Michael Owen was born in Chester and straight into a footballing family. Father Terry Owen was also a professional footballer and had stints at Chester City and Everton. Similar to other Liverpool favourites i.e. Jamie Carragher - Michael Owen was actually a boyhood Everton fan.

In his early footballing days at school Owen beat a record previously held by Ian Rush after scoring 97 goals for Deeside Primary School. Owen was constantly watched by scouts from as young as the age of 10 and way before Liverpool were on the case the youngster had tabs being kept on him by several world class clubs.

He had just turned a teenager (13) when Liverpool snapped him up and he signed a schoolboy contract. The striker also attended Lilleshall the FA's school of excellence just like his team mates at the time Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrard.

At 16 years old when Owen graduated from Lilleshall he was signed up onto Liverpool's youth training scheme. It wasn't long however before he was promoted to senior football and just after his 17th birthday he was into the first team.

His debut came against now defunct Wimbledon in 1997, a decent side in their day and Michael Owen managed to score coming on a substitute gaining his first goal at senior level.

In the 97/98 season Owen finished as joint top goalscorer, a feat he would become somewhat familiar with.

The following season late on we began to see the first signs of Michael Owen's proneness to injury. His first hamstring problem would eventually become the bane of his entire footballing career. For several seasons Owen battled with this recurring injury but in 00/01 he sprung back to life.

The famous cup treble saw Liverpool pick up the UEFA Cup (now Europa League), the League Cup and the FA Cup under manager Gerard Houllier. Michael Owen was a key aspect in the side and Owen single handedly turned around what would have been a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Arsenal in the FA Cup into a 2-1 victory and another trophy for the Reds cabinet.

After also ending the season beating Manchester United to win the community shield and Bayern Munich in the UEFA Super Cup, Owen was a member of the first English side to win 5 trophies in one calendar year.

In the 02/03 season Owen was again in cup winning form after scoring in the League Cup final against Manchester United - Liverpool went on to win.

Michael Owen was Liverpool's top goalscorer from 1998 until he left the club and in August 2004 Real Madrid came knocking...

Real Madrid


The Spanish side snapped up our star striker for £8million. Looking back now and thinking about prices these days, that was a bargain! Even for an injury prone player.

Madrid appeared to have purchased Owen as more of an "option" though and he spent a lot of his time warming the bench. Despite this, Owen ended his first season with thirteen goals and it was the highest number of goals scored to minutes played ratio within La Liga.

As early as 2005 though speculation began building that Michael Owen would be subject to a move back to the UK.

Newcastle United


Newcastle spent £16million on Michael Owen, double the amount Liverpool received when the striker moved to Real Madrid only a year earlier. Newcastle fans were very excited to have signed such a prolific goalscorer but typically an early injury kept Owen out of action for a few months.

Michael Owen saw out his contract at Newcastle and was present at the club at the stage when Alan Shearer was drafted in. Newcastle were relegated and after June 30th Michael Owen would be classed as a free agent.

Manchester United


Owen signed for Manchester United in July 2009. He scored 4 goals in United's pre-season. Goals for United have been few and far between but most people will remember his stoppage time goal to give United a 4-3 victory over Manchester City.

Owen plays fourth string in United's attack and is often not chosen by Ferguson who opts for Rooney, Berbatov and even Hernandez rather than the ex Liverpool player.

Currently injured but not believed to be too serious, Owen is still on the books at Manchester United so who knows what will happen next.

England


Owen began his England career at the age of just 18 and he once held the record for the youngest player to ever score for England. Unlike a lot of club players and football fans, Owen was genuinely passionate about his national side and always appeared to want to do well and try his best.

Owen will forever be remembered for his masterful goal against Argentina. To watch a player who was so young utterly embarrass the Argentinian defence was fascinating and i still think as somebody who isn't very excited by England playing, it will forever be my favourite World Cup moment.

Michael Owen is still the only player to have scored in four major tournaments for England.

Another poignant and heartbreaking moment to watch at the time for Michael Owen was when he had to crawl off the pitch in a group match against Sweden in the 2006 World Cup. However to have played in 3 World Cups, only a few players can boast that.

In more recent England times Owen seems to have slipped below the radar, injuries playing a major part however but Capello doesn't appear to be a fan of Michael Owen and if there was any sort of chance of him being chosen he would need to be playing regular football, something that isn't happening at Manchester United.

Personal Life


Michael Owen has been married to partner Louise Bonsall since June 2005 and has four children Gemma, James, Emily and Jessica.

Outside of football Owen has a keen interest in motoring and also owns a helicopter, there was a time when he was training to be a pilot. He is also very fond of horses and horse racing and can often be spotted at events on the racing calendar.

Owen has also hinted that when he retires he would like to become involved Chester City.

Final Thought


I think however you feel about Michael Owen, given the choice at the time most fans would have wanted him to stay at Liverpool Football Club and nobody would deny his ability in his days at Anfield. Undoubtedly as he's moved on he's never really returned to the top of his game and i personally will always have bitter feelings about his move to United but in all fairness, in his prime Michael Owen was the full package and Liverpool FC was part of the unit that brought out that potential.

Honours


Liverpool

FA Cup - 00/01
FA Community Shield - 2001
League Cup - 00/01 & 02/03
UEFA Cup - 00/01
UEFA Super Cup - 01
FA Youth Cup - 95/96

Manchester United

League Cup - 09/10
FA Community Shield - 2010

England

FA Summer Tournament

Personal

PFA Young Player Of The Year - 97/98
Premier League Golden Boot - 97/98, 98/99
Carling Premiership Player Of The Year - 97/98
Premier League Player Of The Month - August 98
Ballon d'Or - 2001
Included In FIFA 100
Premier League 10 Seasons Award
BBC Sports Personality Of The Year 98

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