Michael Owen’s footballing story began when he was just 13 and signed schoolboy forms with English giants Liverpool.
The striker’s progress through the youth ranks was rapid and he won the FA Youth Cup in 1996 – scoring a hat-trick in the final - before coming off the substitutes’ bench and netting in his first-team debut in a Premier League game against Wimbledon in 1997 as a 17-year-old.
From then he never looked back and became a regular for the Merseyside outfit from the 1997-98 season onwards after he seized his opportunity after an injury to Anfield legend Robbie Fowler.
Amazingly, he bagged 23 goals in his first full season - 18 of which were in the league – allowing him to share the Premier League’s golden boot award with Chris Sutton and Dion Dublin.
He identically matched that goals tally the next year, managing to do so despite playing less games, and tied for the golden boot with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink and Dwight Yorke in what was Manchester United’s famous treble season.
After an injury-hit 1999-2000 season saw him restricted to 11 league goals, he enjoyed the best spell of his career to date during the three seasons from 2000-2003.
In those campaigns he scored a sensational 80 goals as he helped Liverpool to the Uefa Cup, FA Cup and two League Cups. Famously, in the 2001 FA Cup final against Arsenal, he single-handedly turned what was looking like a certain defeat into a 2-1 win for the Reds with two late goals at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
Individually, he landed the famous Ballon d’Or award in 2001 as he was rewarded for the fine goal-scoring form, becoming the first Englishman to do so in 20 years.
What turned out to be his final season for Liverpool was one hit as injury problems returned again, but he still netted 19 times at a ratio of a goal every two games.
A Year In Madrid
Gerard Houllier's sacking at Liverpool and the arrival of Rafael Benitez as manager caused questions over his future and in the summer of 2004, Spanish giants Real Madrid snared the player for a cut-price fee of £8 million plus Antonio Nunez.
The move to Spain did not really work out as Owen was used primarily as a substitute and struggled to make inroads into the first-team despite some decent form and support from Los Blancos’ fans.
Indeed, after making just 15 starts Owen still managed 18 goals and had the best goals per minutes played ratio in La Liga that season.
However, after his lack of first team action, combined with the arrival of Robinho at the Bernabeu, he returned to England with Newcastle United in a £16 million move and arrived at St. James’ Park to huge fanfare and a big-money four-year contract.
Decline With Newcastle
Owen spent the entirety of that contract in the north East, but they turned out to be disastrous for both him and the club as the talented striker struggled to re-produce anywhere near the form of his Liverpool days.
His first two seasons saw the worst injury problems of his career strike and he made just 14 appearances over that period.
Fitness did return for Owen over the next two years and he featured 62 times – becoming team captain as the Geordies attempted to halt a decline that had seen them fall from Champions League participants under Sir Bobby Robson to Premier League strugglers after a string of managerial changes.
He only managed 23 goals in those two years, though, and was unable to prevent the club from dropping out of the Premier League under former team-mate Alan Shearer after a disastrous 2008-09 campaign both on and off the pitch.
With his great early successes at club level, international recognition followed instantly and to date Owen has racked up an impressive 89 caps for England. He has scored 40 goals so far, which places him fourth in the list of all-time goal-scorers for his country.
The defining moment of Owen’s career came in the 1998 World Cup when, as an 18-year-old, he scored ‘that’ goal against Argentina – an outstanding solo run which saw him leave experienced Argentinean defenders for dead before smashing the ball into the top corner from the edge of the penalty area.
Even though England went on to lose on penalties, individual stardom was Owen’s and he became an integral member of the nation’s attack over the next decade.
He scored important goals in the 2002 World Cup as well as in Euro 2000 and Euro 2004 – making him the first Englishman to score in four different major international tournaments.
Although his overall goals tally is not yet top of the charts, he does hold the record for the most competitive England goals scored (26). He has also captained his country on seven occasions.
The 2006 World Cup was a low point for Owen. After failing to score in the first two group games, he went down injured in the early stages of the game against Sweden. It was found he had torn his cruciate knee ligament and he went on to miss the rest of the tournament and nine months of club action.
As his form declined and injury troubles continued, Owen found himself consistently left out of the England squad for the first time under new manager Fabio Capello. To date, he has still been unable to force his way back into the squad and his last international goals came in September 2007.
But all that may change. With Owen being snubbed by the likes of modest Blackburn Rovers, and at one stage seemingly destined for Hull City, a knight in shining armour has appeared to rescue a career in distress.
Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United have taken the gamble, offering what is apparently a largely incentive-based contract to Owen in the hope that he can stay fit and rediscover the net. A base wage of 50,000 pounds a week is said to be heavily augmented by clauses, so even though he's cut his basic salary in half, he has both the opportunity to make more money, and salvage his reputation, too.
Whether he will be re-called to the England set-up with the South Africa World Cup looming will depend hugely on how successful this move to Manchester United proves to be. As such, the year ahead is huge in the career of Michael Owen.
Name: Michael James Owen
Born: December 14 1979 (Chester, England).
Club History: Liverpool (1996-2004), Real Madrid (2004-2005), Newcastle United (2004-2009), … (2009 -).
Senior Club Honours:
FA Cup (1) 2004
Uefa Cup (1) 2001
League Cup (2) 2001, 2003
European Super Cup (1) 2001
FA Community Shield (1) 2001
Ballon d’Or winner (1) 2001
PFA Young Player of the Year (1) 1998
Premier League Golden Boot (2) 1998, 1999 *
BBC Sports Personality of the Year (1) 1998
*Shared award on both occasions.
Did you know? Pele selected Michael Owen in his list of the 100 greatest living footballers in 2004, when the Brazilian legend marked FIFA’s centenary year by making his nominations. Six other English players were chosen.Chris Myson, Goal.com
Manchester United haven’t had a ruthless striker ever since Van Nilsterooy left the club, but Huntelaar looks like the prefect replacement for his compatriot. The ‘Hunter’ earned his reputation as a ruthless finisher while at Ajax, where he scored 113 goals in 136 appearances. The player is very dangerous both in the air and on the ground and he scores goals with either foot. He understands the game really well and is always in the right time at the right place. I am sure he would be a great asset for Alex Ferguson’s side since United have no problems creating chances but they need a player like Huntelaar to turn them into goals. He showed he was ready for the big stage while at Real, where he scored 8 goals in 20 appearances even though mostly used as a substitute.
Sir Alex has been keeping tabs on the player for quite a while and this seems like the perfect moment to sign him as he is available at a knock-down price. Huntelaar is worth much more than Real are asking for him and Ferguson would be a fool not to snatch him. The 25-year-old striker is in the best footballing years and he looks ready to make the step to the big stage. The Hunter would have no problems fitting in since he is fluent in English and will not need a lot of time to adapt to the new surroundings. This transfer is likely to be realized very soon and Real will definitely regret for not giving him the right chance.
source : soccerpie
It was reported at the weekend that the Premier League champions and Real Madrid had bid in excess of £16million for the Ecuador international.
Real - who have had a world-record £80m bid for United's Cristiano Ronaldo accepted - have since stated that they have not shown an interest in Valencia since January.
However, Whelan has declared that United have been in contact with DW Stadium officials for the past two to three months and that they have also submitted initial offers.
He told Sky Sports News when asked about Valencia: "They (United) have been in touch with us and we will be starting negotiations very shortly, I would imagine.
"United have been in touch with us over Antonio for the last two or three months, expressing an interest and actually putting cash offers on the table.
"Those things have got to be picked up now. I think they were waiting to see if Ronaldo actually went to Real, which has happened."
He added: "Things will develop over the next seven to 14 days.
"The master, which is Sir Alex, he makes his moves when he is ready. He has strong interest in Antonio, there is no question in that.
"He had him watched practically every, single match last year. He has got a very strong interest in him. We are just sat on the fence now."
Whelan, though, is adamant that Wigan are not eager to cash in on Valencia.
"We are not desperate to sell Antonio, I'm telling you. If I can keep that lad, I'm going to keep him. He is one brilliant player," added Whelan.
"So there is no pressure on me, or our football club to sell him. If Man United don't want to make a (written) offer, I'll be delighted and we will have him in our team next season."
But the Wigan chairman admits that he will not stand in the 23-year-old's way if he expresses a desire to move to Old Trafford and the club's asking price is met.
He said: "What is difficult is to stop a lad like Antonio Valencia, who has got ambition. It is difficult to stop a footballer, who wants to get to the very, very top of the ladder.
"I would never stand in the way of a footballer who can go to bigger and better clubs, and you can't get bigger and better than Man United.
"If Antonio Valencia says to me, 'chairman, I want to go to Manchester United' and we get the right fee, the deal will be done."
source : teamtalk
Looks like Valencia will be our first signing this season.
Waiting for our next signing, hopes it would be Benzema.