Former-England striker Michael Owen has decided to retire from playing football at the end of the season.
He is currently contracted to Premier League Stoke City, but the striker has made just seven appearances for the club since joining in the September.
When Michael Owen broke into the Liverpool team at 17 he was described as a wonderkid and the next big thing for England.
He came to prominence for his national side at World Cup 98, when he scored that famous goal against Argentina.
After that World Cup he was regarded as one of the best young up-and-coming strikers in the world and trailed by some of the biggest clubs in the world.
Owen enjoyed a very good career. The 33 year-old played for two of the biggest clubs in world football in Manchester United and Real Madrid, not to mention Liverpool and Newcastle.
However, Owen’s career was a story of what if? Michael Owen could have had an even more successful career if it wasn’t for injuries. At every club he play for he was hampered by injury.
Had Owen stayed injury free then he could probably have been an even better player and bigger hero at the clubs he represented.
Like a lot of footballers with lots of pace he was hamstrung by his hamstrings. Owen picked up a lot of hamstring injuries, along with a number of other injuries. His game was based on the ability to outstrip defenders.
As his career moved forward the injuries started having an effect on his body and he started to have to adapt his game, because slowly but surely his strongest asset diminished.
Unfortunately Owen has struggled to get over his injuries and in recent years his career seems to have just been coasting along. In many people’s eyes Owen probably should have retired a couple of years ago.
Michael Owen evokes mixed feeling amongst a lot of football fans. Newcastle fans seem to resent him because he was on such big money at their club and hardly played. At Manchester United he seems to be liked merely because of a late winning goal against Manchester City in the derby.
It’s the Liverpool fans that have the strangest relationship with the ex-England striker though. He arrived at Liverpool at the age of just 12 and came through the youth system and was seen as one of their own, despite the fact that his dad Terry played for arch-rivals Everton and young Michael was a childhood blue.
Owen enjoyed his best times in football at Liverpool scoring 158 goals in 297 appearances. However, when he decided to join bitter North West rivals Manchester United the feeling from Reds fans was that he was a traitor.
The striker went from hero to zero in a lot of Liverpool fans eyes. They suddenly forgot all the goals he scored for them and the silverware he helped the club win. All of a sudden he was a pariah.
This is a big shame because he probably should be remembered in favourable light at Anfield for his football. Football is a tribal game though and that sort of switch of allegiance is unforgivable in some fans eyes.
Take away the injuries and the bad feelings from some supporters and Michael Owen should be remembered for his achievements on the pitch. The early years of his career where the highlight, as he helped Liverpool win silverware.
In 2001 he claimed the Ballon d’Or, thanks largely to a hat-trick in England’s memorable 5-1 victory over Germany in Munich and helping Liverpool win a quarter of trophies.
Owen is also England’s fourth-highest goalscorer ever with 40 goals in 89 appearances in 10 years. It’s widely acknowledged that had injuries not hit the striker then he would have went on to equal Bobby Charlton’s record of 49 goals for the Three Lions.
Michael Owen may have produced the best football of his career at the start, but to his credit in his early days for a few fleeting moments the diminutive striker was the best striker in the world.
Hopefully when he does retire he is remembered for the early stages of his career when he was at his best and not for the latter stages, when he was constantly frustrated by injury problems and lack of appearances.
What are your memories of Michael Owen?
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