The Ups (and a Few Downs) of Michael Owen

michael-owen-05Before saying anything else on this post, I just want to put it out there that I really admire Owen. He’s a talented player, who’s career was severely hampered by injury, for sure. However, along with the good times, there were some lows. This is a short, picture-based biography of Owen’s incredible, and thoroughly individual, career. 

Starting his youth career at Liverpool, in 1991, two years before I was even born, Owen’s pace and ability was clear for all to see. His performances at Liverpool career continued to blossom until its climax in May 1996, with the securing of the FA Youth Cup.

Owen was largely accepted as the star of the 1995/96 FA Youth Cup

Owen was largely accepted as the star of the 1995/96 FA Youth Cup

Although having gained ten GCSEs, Owen was adamant he was to become a professional footballer, rather than continuing along the academic path. After scoring on his first full debut in May 1997, Owen finished top goalscorer and was awarded the PFA Young Player of the Year award in the 1977/78 season. His performances were rewarded with a promotion from the England Under-21 squad, to the first team.

Owen slotting home a penalty against Wimbledon

Owen slotting home a penalty against Wimbledon

After his debut in February, Owen soon went on to score ‘that goal’ against Argentina. The goal that everyone remembers him for. After pacing past both Ayala and Chamot, he slipped the ball past the keeper with an incredibly mature finish. Even with a premature end to his 1998/99 season due to injury in April, Owen still managed to retain the Golden Boot. He was also rewarded with the title of BBC Sports Personality of the Year 1998.

This one hurts as an Arsenal fan. Owen stole the show in the 2001 FA Cup final, scoring both goals as Liverpool beat Arsenal 2-1, as part of their treble winning season. Criticism came as a handball seemed to occur from Sami Hyypia in the build up to his second goal. His club performances remained strong, scoring his 100th goal for Liverpool during the 2001-2002 season and later scoring his 100th Premier League goal in April 2003.

Owen scores the first of his double in the FA Cup Final

Owen scores the first of his double in the FA Cup Final

After an extensive period of pursuing from Real Madrid, Owen finally signed in August 2004. His career at Real Madrid wasn’t quite as illustrious as many had expected, and criticism arose in the Spanish media. However, with a return to the England squad, Owen found a new patch of form. Although mostly used as a substitute, Owen managed to find 18 goals in 41 games (15 starts), holding the highest goals-to-minute ratio in the league.

Owen celebrates with England teammate Beckham after scoring against Zaragoza

Owen celebrates with England teammate Beckham after scoring against Zaragoza

After a relatively unsuccessful spell at Real Madrid, Owen moved back to the Premiership in August 2006, joining the toon army in Newcastle in a £16 million deal. His career at Newcastle was plagued with injury, but Owen still managed 26 goals in a stop-and-start spell of 71 games.

The Toon Army was buzzing to see the striker partnership of Owen and Shearer.

The Toon Army was buzzing to see the striker partnership of Owen and Shearer.

Owen’s international career had plenty of potential, but the injuries that restricted him in his club career also hampered his international appearances. His last cap was against France in 2008, bowing out with 40 goals in 89 appearances, an impressive achievement at international level.

Owen's England career was unfortunately consistently hampered by injury

Owen’s England career was unfortunately consistently hampered by injury

It had began to look like Owen’s injuries would lead to an extremely early retirement for the England international. However, he still had one last shot at the big time left. Manchester United signed the striker in 2009. Although Owen rarely featured as a starter for United, arguably his last special goal came as the injury-time winner for them in the 2009 Manchester derby.

Owen celebrates scoring with Wayne Rooney

Owen celebrates scoring in the derby with Wayne Rooney

In 2012, Stoke City signed Owen on a free. He played his debut against Manchester City on 15 September, but has rarely been used by manager Tony Pulis, arguably due to his footballing ability being greater than his ability to push people over (thus not fitting in with the Stoke way).

Owen in one of his few appearances for Stoke City

Owen in one of his few appearances for Stoke City

Although having a lack of football, there were still highlights for Owen’s career in the more recent period. Featuring more and more as a pundit on shows such as Match of the Day, Owen’s footballing knowledge and experience is still evident. November 2012 showed one of Owen’s greatest talents, an ability to grow a handlebar moustache for Movember.

Owen tweeted a picture of himself sporting the incredible tash

Owen tweeted a picture of himself sporting the incredible tash

With the growth of Twitter, Owen’s interaction with the public grew. Usually this showed his good nature and insights into his family life, however a few faux pas have occurred. One of said issues includes the below slip up, accidentally referring to the Bradford Stadium fire in 1985, killing 56 people.

Owen quickly apologised for his social media disaster

Owen quickly apologised for his social media disaster

Owen’s haters seem to remain quiet today as he announced his end-of-season retirement, instead the deserved praise for an incredible career, taking him to arguably the two largest clubs in the world, has rained in. Three cheers for a great international and a seemingly nice guy. Hip hip… Hip hip… Hip hip…

Leave your favourite memories and any messages to Owen in the comment section below (don’t worry, you won’t get spammed or anything).

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