Life and Times of Michael Owen
His career may have ended with more of a whimper than a bang, but Michael Owen will be remembered as one of the top strikers of the modern game.
How Stoke City fans would have loved to have seen Owen in the famed red and white stripes when he was at the height of his career.
But the young man who emerged at Liverpool as a precocious teenager with a devastating talent for scoring goals was destined for the very top of the game.
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Owen, who scored 40 goals in 89 internationals, celebrated his 17th birthday by signing a professional contract at Anfield and being handed a place in Roy Evans' senior squad, and his £10,000-a-week deal made him the highest-paid teenager in British football.
Owen made England's 1998 World Cup squad aged just 18, and his extraordinary goal against Argentina made him an international star.
He helped secure a treble of trophies in 2001 as Liverpool won the League Cup, FA Cup and Uefa Cup, ending a six-year trophy drought.
And that year he was named European Footballer of the Year – he was the first Englishman to achieve the accolade since Kevin Keegan in 1979.
In total, Owen scored 158 goals in 297 appearances for the Anfield club.
In 2004 Owen moved to Real Madrid, penning a deal worth £8 million. But despite securing 14 goals in 40 games, he returned to the Premier League with Newcastle United for a reported £16 million in the summer of 2005.
That year marked the beginning of a run of injuries for the pedigree player. He suffered a broken metatarsal in December and went on to damage the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in the first minute of the 2006 World Cup group match against Sweden.
The knee injury saw him side-lined for almost a year.
Owen suffered a number of other ailments over the next four years, including groin, ankle, thigh and hernia problems.
But in July 2009, after being linked with Everton, Aston Villa, Stoke and Hull, Owen completed a surprise move to Manchester United.
The free agent, whose contract with Newcastle had ended just days before, penned a two-year deal with the club.
He signed a contract extension after winning the Premier League title in 2010-11, but his injury woes soon returned.
In May 2012 it emerged Owen was to be released by United. At that point he had made only four appearances in the season just ended and had not played competitively since November 2011 due to a thigh injury.
Just four months later, in September 2012, Owen signed with Stoke. He penned a one-year deal, becoming the Potters' seventh signing of the summer.
Owen, 33, remains the only Englishman to have scored in four major tournaments and is fourth on the all-time goal-scoring list behind Sir Bobby Charlton, Gary Lineker and Jimmy Greaves
He has scored 220 goals in his club career.
Twitter users have today sent messages of support to Owen. User @markpougatch said: “Congratulations @themichaelowen on a great career & for that astonishing evening in Munich when we stared at the scoreboard in amazement”.
And footballer Joey Barton tweeted: “Far too early mate. If your injury free, you still have a lot to offer. Understand there is more to life. Sad to see you go”.
After exchanging messages with Owen, Barton wrote: “Haha all the best mate. No doubt whatever u do you'll be successful at. Was a pleasure to play along side u”.
Meanwhile TV sports presenter Hayley McQueen wrote: “I'm 5 days older than @themichaelowen, can't imagine having 2 retire from something I love doing. Big decision, done with the utmost respect”.