Saturday, April 23, 2011

Michael Owen

Michael James Owen (born 14 December 1979 in Chester) is an English professional footballer who plays as a striker for Manchester United. The son of former footballer Terry Owen, Owen began his senior career at Liverpool in 1996. He progressed through the Liverpool youth team and scored on his debut in May 1997. In his first full season in the Premier League he finished as joint top scorer. He repeated the feat the following year and was Liverpool's top goal scorer from 1997–2004, in spite of a recurring hamstring injury. His first major club honours came in 2001 when Liverpool won a cup treble of the UEFA Cup, FA Cup and Football League Cup, and Owen was the recipient of the Ballon d'Or that year. He went on to score 118 goals in 216 appearances in the Premier League for Liverpool. Owen moved to Real Madrid for £8 million in mid-2004 but was frequently used as a substitute. In spite of this, he scored 13 goals in La Liga and had the season's highest ratio of goals scored to number of minutes played. He returned to England the following season, joining Newcastle United for £16 million. He had a promising start to the 2005–06 season but injuries largely ruled him out over the next 18 months. After his return he became team captain and was the team's top scorer for the 2007–08 season. After the final season of his four year contract, Newcastle were relegated, and Owen moved to Manchester United as a free agent. Internationally, Owen first played for the senior England team in 1998, becoming England's youngest player and youngest goalscorer at the time. His performance at the 1998 World Cup brought him to national and international prominence and he went on to appear, and score, in Euro 2000, the 2002 World Cup and Euro 2004. He is the only player to ever have scored in four major tournaments for England. He played at the 2006 World Cup but suffered an injury which took him a year to recover from. Occasionally playing as captain, he is England's seventh most-capped player and has scored a national record of 26 competitive goals, with 40 in total from 89 appearances. Owen's long injury absence after the 2006 World Cup resulted in a dispute between FIFA and The FA and Newcastle United, and eventually resulted in an unprecedented £10m compensation award to Newcastle, and brought changes to the compensation arrangements between club and country regarding injuries sustained by contracted club players while on international duty.

On 3 July 2009, it was announced that Owen had signed a two-year deal with Premier League champions, Manchester United. Owen had also been linked with Hull City, Stoke City, Everton, and Aston Villa, before signing for United, and he said that the approach from manager Alex Ferguson came from "out of the blue". Owen was handed the number 7 shirt vacated by the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid. Owen scored his first goal for United on his debut, scoring an 84th-minute winner after coming on as a substitute in a pre-season friendly against a Malaysian XI; he followed this up by scoring three more goals in United's pre-season game. Owen made his league debut for United when he came on as a substitute against Birmingham City on 16 August in a 1-0 win, and scored his first competitive goal in a Manchester United shirt against Wigan Athletic on 22 August in a 5–0 away win. On 20 September, Owen scored his first goal at Old Trafford as he netted in the sixth minute of stoppage time against local rivals Manchester City to give United a 4-3 derby win. This meant that Owen had now scored in his fourth derby, after netting in the Merseyside derby, El Clásico and the Tyne–Wear derby in previous years. Owen struggled to recall the moments immediately after the goal, and said that it ranked as one of his most important. On 27 October, Owen notched a goal in the 2–0 away win against Barnsley to qualify United past the fourth round of the league cup. On 3 November, Owen scored his first Champions League goal for Manchester United, as he grabbed United's first in the 3–3 draw against CSKA Moscow. Owen's seemingly slim chances of earning a place in Fabio Capello's England squad for the 2010 World Cup Finals in 2010 received a boost when on 8 December 2009, Owen scored his first hat-trick for Manchester United in a 3–1 away win against Wolfsburg in the Champions League, his first hat-trick since 2005. On 28 February 2010, Owen scored United's first goal in their 2–1 victory over Aston Villa in the 2010 Football League Cup Final, but had to be substituted after pulling up on 42 minutes. Originally thought to be a minor injury, on 5 March it was announced Owen required surgery on his hamstring, ruling him out for the rest of the season. Owen netted his first goal for United back from injury in a 7–1 pre-season victory against a League of Ireland XI on 4 August 2010 at the newly built Aviva Stadium. On 22 September 2010, Owen netted his first goals of the season as he netted twice during a 5–2 away win over Scunthorpe United in the 3rd round of the League Cup. Four days later Owen scored his first league goal of the season as he netted United's second equaliser with his first touch in a 2–2 away draw against Bolton Wanderers. Owen's first goal of 2011 came in United's 2-1 FA Cup victory over Southampton at the St Mary's Stadium on 29 January. On the 25 February, United manager Alex Ferguson said that Owen was a key part of his squad for the rest of the season. However, he suffered a groin injury and missed his team's next four games. His return match was on the 19 March when he returned to the bench for United's game against Bolton.

Owen had a highly successful record at Youth level, playing for the England under-20 team at the 1997 FIFA World Youth Championship and scoring three goals in four games. He was only briefly a member of the England under-21 team (netting on his only appearance in a win over Greece under-21 at Carrow Road) before he made his début for the senior team in a 2–0 friendly loss to Chile on 11 February 1998. Playing in this game made Owen the youngest player to represent England in the 20th century at 18 years and 59 days of age. Owen's youthful enthusiasm, pace and talent made him a popular player across the country, and many fans were keen for him to be made a regular player for the team ahead of that year's World Cup. His first goal for England, against Morocco in another friendly game prior to the tournament, further enhanced his reputation. The goal also made him the youngest ever player to have scored for England, until his record was surpassed by Wayne Rooney in 2003.He has since played for England in Euro 2000, the 2002 World Cup and Euro 2004, scoring goals in all three tournaments. This makes him the only player to ever have scored in four major tournaments for England. He also became one of only a handful of England players to appear in three World Cup tournaments when he played at the 2006 FIFA World Cup, although he did not score and was injured in the final group game.Owen started England's first two games of the 2006 World Cup, against Paraguay and Trinidad and Tobago, but did not manage to score. After playing only 51 seconds of his third appearance of the tournament, and 80th cap, in the 2006 World Cup against Sweden, Owen badly twisted his left knee and was forced to leave the match on a stretcher. A scan of the injury on 21 June confirmed that Owen had torn the anterior cruciate ligament in his knee, and was sent home, no longer able to play in the tournament.Owen underwent successful reconstruction surgery, carried out by Dr. Richard Steadman, on 6 September 2006. The injury sidelined him until April 2007, meaning he missed England's first six matches in qualifying for Euro 2008. He returned for the England B game against Albania, and was named in the full squad for the games against Brazil and Estonia, with Owen stating "I feel sharp and, if given the chance, I feel confident when in front of goal." He played in both matches and scored against Estonia, breaking Gary Lineker's record for most goals in competitive internationals for England. Owen's latest international efforts include a brace for England in a 3–0 win over Russia on 12 September 2007. He was once again left out of the squad for the friendly against Germany in November 2008, despite forwards Emile Heskey and Wayne Rooney being unavailable for the match. However, Capello stated in November 2008 that Owen could still be reinstated to the side at some point in the future. In March 2009, Owen admitted that all injuries he was sustaining were relating back to his injury in the 2006 World Cup tournament, and that he should not have attended the competition. Owen's chances of an international recall deteriorated when Capello announced he would only be picked if he was playing regularly. In February 2010, having been used mainly as a substitute by United, he described his chances of a recall as "probably a long shot in racing terms". On 28 February, he suffered a hamstring injury in the League Cup final and was ruled out for the rest of the season. As a result, he did not make the squad for the World Cup in South Africa that summer.

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