Michael Owen to retire at end of season

LONDON: Former England striker Michael Owen announced yesterday that he will bring down the curtain on his professional career at the end of the current season.

The 33-year-old scored 40 goals in 89 appearances for England and won the prestigious Ballon d’Or in 2001, but the latter years of his career were disrupted by injuries.

Following a three-year stint at Manchester United, he joined Stoke City last year but has barely played since arriving at the Britannia Stadium.

He announced his retirement on his personal website, writing, “It is with an immense amount of pride that I am announcing my intention to retire from professional football at the end of this season.

“I have been very fortunate in that my career has taken me on a journey that, like many young players starting out in the game, I could only have dreamt of.

“None of this would have been possible without the tremendous support I have received from managers, coaches, fellow players, back room staff, the supporters and my own personal sponsors.”

He went on to thank his family, including his father, Terry Owen, who was also a professional footballer during his time.

“We did it my old mate!” wrote Owen. “From those freezing local parks to terrorising the best defenders in the world on the biggest stages of all. I couldn’t have done it without you.”

Early years

Owen exploded onto the global scene at the 1998 World Cup in France when he scored a famous solo goal against Argentina at the age of just 18.

He had joined Liverpool at the age of 12 and after scoring on his debut at Wimbledon in 1997, he finished as the joint-top scorer in the Premier League in his first two full seasons.

The crowning glory of his Liverpool career was the 2000-01 season.

He scored two late goals as Liverpool came from behind to beat Arsenal in the FA Cup final and also played a key role in his side’s successes in the League Cup and the UEFA Cup.

As a result, he became the first English player to be named European Footballer of the Year since Kevin Keegan in 1979.

He scored 158 goals in 297 appearances for Liverpool, but his career lost momentum after he joined Real Madrid in 2004.

He returned to England a year later, joining Newcastle for a club-record fee of £16.8 million.

However, a succession of niggling injuries prevented him from making an impact at St James’ Park and also curtailed his international career with England.

Newcastle were relegated in 2009 and Owen joined Manchester United, netting a famous injury-time winner in a 4-3 win over derby rivals Manchester City shortly after arriving.

His spell at Old Trafford with the Red Devils yielded his first Premier League winner’s medal, in the 2011 season, but he scored only 17 goals in three years and has found the net just once since arriving at Stoke last year.