Does Michael Owen deserve to be considered ‘an England great’?


Soccer - FA Barclaycard Premiership - Liverpool v Newcastle UnitedHe arrived onto the scene of English football in great fashion, netting on his Premier League debut and grabbing plaudits as Liverpool lost 2-1 to Wimbledon on the penultimate day of the 1996-97 season. That was his first bow into the game and his next season was incredible.

Michael Owen replaced Robbie Fowler as Liverpool’s number 1 striker and won the golden boot, PFA young player of the year, came behind Dennis Bergkamp and Tony Adams in PFA player of the year and was beaten to European footballer of the year by Zinedine Zidane. Quite an impressive debut season.

Off he went to the World Cup and that’s where he captured the nations hearts. He didn’t start the first two games but came off the bench and scored in England’s 2-1 defeat to Romania. Following that, he started and scored one of the most memorable England goals ever with his strike against Argentina.

That is just a snippet of his career, which has been quite remarkable. Liverpool, Real Madrid, Newcastle United, Manchester United and Stoke City.

I was sad to hear of Michael Owen’s decision to retire from the game at the end of the season but I wasn’t surprised. He’s been extremely unlucky with injuries and if not for them, I truly believe he would’ve surpassed Bobby Charlton’s record of 49 England goals. He will finish 5 points off that, currently joint third with Jimmy Greaves and 4 goals behind Gary Linekar in second spot.

The reason I was gutted is simple, a player such as Michael Owen deserves much more credit than he gets and his retirement shouldn’t be a quiet affair. It should be full of celebrations, thanks and fond memories.

His career may have deteriorated towards the end due to injuries and, some might say, some poor decisions but he was great for England and Liverpool in his prime. I can’t think of a better England striker and Michael Owen played a part in my love affair with football.

I hated him at first. My Dad is a Liverpool fan and after he turned around the FA Cup final in 2001, part of Liverpool’s treble, I cried. My Dad was screaming in my ear and I, at just 7 years old, experienced my first heartbreak as an football fan and Michael Owen was the man I blamed.

Then I started to realise how good a player he was. His hat-trick against Germany in that famous victory, which I won’t print for the sake of any German readers, was one of England’s greatest ever performances. He’s the only player to score in 4 international tournaments for England and he is truly one of the nations greats.

He deserved to reach 100 international caps but will stay on 89, 11 shy of what would have given him the credit he deserves. Still, he had a decent return and he won’t mind due to the model professional that he is.

Michael, you won’t be reading this but as an England fan I just want to thank you for what you did for the nation as a player. Your club career may not be the best but for the national side you were truly an inspiration and I will have great memories about you to share when I’m older.

I really hope the rumours of him getting a coaching role at England are true because I can’t think of a better national striker to learn from.

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18 year old Multimedia Journalism student at Teesside Univrsity. Avid Arsenal and Athletic Bilbao fan.

Follow me on Twitter: @challies11


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