Former England manager Sven-Goran Eriksson expressed disappointment after learning of Michael Owen’s decision to retire.
Owen – who won the Premier League with Manchester United and UEFA Cup with Liverpool, as well as the 2001 Ballon d’Or award – announced he would retire at the end of the league season, as he sees out his professional career with Stoke City.
Eriksson’s fondest memory of Owen was the England striker’s hat-trick against rivals Germany in a 2002 FIFA World Cup qualifier in Munich, which the Three Lions went on to win 5-1.
“It’s a sad story for football (Owen’s retirement). You know as the whole world knows that, if you have Michael Owen in your squad, he will never create a problem for you. Well, the only problem would be if he was injured,” the Swede said.
“But he is a good professional and a very, very good man. He is always happy … a perfect professional both on and off the pitch. You knew that, if he was on the pitch, the chance to win is always there until the very last second of the game.”
Eriksson fondly recalls Owen’s heroics on German soil, a feat he says highlighted the Englishman’s unique ability.
“There are so many good memories about Michael Owen and my relationship with him in that player-coach role,” he said.
“But the standout memory for me must be when he scored three goals away against Germany.
“I never thought about it, but I wonder know how many players have scored three goals in a single game against Germany while playing away. There can’t be very many, if any at all.”
Owen, 33, earned 89 caps for England, scoring 40 goals.