Full name: Michael James Owen
Date of birth: 14/12/1979
Michael James Owen was born on December 14, 1979 in Chester, Cheshire, though during his childhood his family lived in Howarden in Clwyd, Wales. He was the second youngest of five children, with two brothers and two sisters.
The Beautiful Game was in his blood. His father, Terry, had been a professional footballer for 14 years with Everton, Bradford City and Chester and his son showed early promise. When he was seven, he was accepted into the local team of Mold Alexandria, which mostly consisted of 10-year-olds. Despite being much younger and smaller than the other players, Owen soon became known as the secret weapon. In his first full season he scored 34 goals in 24 games. He also broke local scoring records when he played for his primary school.
After moving on to Hawarden High, Owen was allowed to sign Schoolboy forms with a club. Several were interested, including Chelsea, Manchester United and Arsenal, but he eventually went for Liverpool. When he was 14, the club decided it would be worth sending him to the FA’s School of Excellence at Lilleshall, Shropshire. A year later he tried out – and was accepted – for Cardiff City FC.
Owen finished school at 16, signing with Liverpool and beginning on the Youth Training Scheme. The Team won the FA Youth Cup in 1996. As soon as he was able, on his 17th birthday, he signed for the senior team.
Owen’s first match with Liverpool was against Wimbledon in May 1997. He scored a goal after coming on as a substitute. His career stepped up a gear when Robbie Fowler sustained a thigh injury, after which Owen became a staple of first team matches. Despite the fact that he was only 18 by the end of the season, he scored 18 goals, making him the joint top scorer in the Premier League. He was voted PFA Young Player of the Year. Catching Glenn Hoddle’s eye, he found himself playing in a friendly match against Child in February of 1998. His performance in that match and throughout the season for Liverpool won him a place on the England Squad for the 1998 World Cup.
The World Cup sealed Owen’s reputation. He was only on for a few minutes in the first match, against Tunisia. In the second, he scored a goal against Romania thanks to a cross from Shearer. England lost 2-1 but Owen was back in subsequent matches against Columbia and crucially, Argentina. His outstanding goal was named the best goal of the tournament by commentators. Although Beckham was sent off, changing the course of the match, which England eventually lost on penalties, no one would forget the talent Owen had showed.
At the end of the 1998-99 season he was named BBC Sports Personality of the Year. Unfortunately, it would be a while before he could properly capitalise on his new reputation. A series of hamstring injuries prevented him from shining as he had the year before. The same was true in the following year, although he did score against Romania in Euro 2000.
2000-01 was a better season. Recovered from his injuries, Owen played a large part in bringing about a fantastically successful season for Liverpool. They won the League Cup, FA Cup and UEFA Cup. The FA Cup Final has since been dubbed the Michael Owen Cup Final. At 1-0 down against Arsenal, Owen scored two goals in the last few minutes of play, turning a defeat into an unexpected victory.
In the 2002 World Cup qualifying round against Germany, Owen first equalised and went on to complete a hat trick. He played well in the tournament itself, scoring a goal against Denmark (England won, 3-0). He also scored against Brazil in the quarter final, though England lost 2-1.
The pattern of the last few years was to repeat itself as Owen was dogged by another injury in 2003-04, recovering enough to play in Euro 2004. England again reached the quarter finals, but although he scored against Portugal the team finally lost on penalties. After Gérard Houllier was sacked as Liverpool’s manager, it became clear that Owen would be moving on. As a result, he could not participate in the 2004-05 Champions League games as he would be cup-tied – ineligible to play for any team he transferred to.
In August 2004 Real Madrid signed him for £8 million, but Owen could never really make his home there. He had a difficult start and although he recovered and scored a number of goals (including the winning goal in the UEFA Champions League game against Dynamo Kiev), he was not a regular enough player to satisfy him. He was with Real Madrid for only one season, after which he signed a four-year contract with Newcastle United.
The hope was that the move to Newcastle would give him regular match practice for the 2006 World Cup. Unfortunately, he has been plagued by injuries and unable to play for much of the time he has been with the club. He broke his foot at Tottenham on New Year’s Eve and had to fight to recover in time for the World Cup. Playing in the opening games, he was less than match fit and was substituted without scoring on both occasions. Disaster then struck in England’s match against Sweden. After less than a minute of play Owen was stretchered off with what turned out to be a torn anterior cruciate ligament – an injury that meant he would need surgery and would be out of action for months.
Owen missed the first few qualifying matches for Euro 2008, but was back on the pitch and in promising form by April 2007.
Owen is married to Louise Bonsall, whom he has known since primary school. The couple married in 2005 and have two children. Gemma Rose was born in 2003 and James Michael was born in 2006. They live near the village of Northop, which is near Owen’s childhood home.
- PFA Young Player of the Year: 1998
- Premier League Joint Topscorer: 1998
- BBC Sports Personality of the Year: 1998
- Carling Premiership Player of the Year: 1998
- Premier League Joint Topscorer: 1999
- World Soccer Player of the Year: 2001
- Ballon d’Or: 2001
|1996–2004||Liverpool F.C.||216 (118)|
|2004-2005||Real Madrid||35 (13)|
|2005 – present||Newcastle United||47 (20)|
|1998 – present||England||89 (40)|