Owen to retire at end of season
LONDON - Agence France-Presse
In this Saturday, Nov. 12, 2005 file photo, England's Michael Owen, left, celebrates scoring the winning goal against Argentina with Wayne Rooney during a friendly soccer match at the Stade de Geneve in Geneva, Switzerland. Michael Owen will retire at the end of the Premier League season, concluding the career of one of English football's most prolific strikers for club and country. AP Photo/Daniel Maurer, FileFormer England striker Michael Owen announced on Tuesday 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, 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.
"We did it my old mate!" Owen wrote.
"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." 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 ($25.4 million, 19.6 million euros).
However, a succession of injuries prevented him from making an impact at St James' Park and also curtailed his England career.
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 yielded his first Premier League winner's medal, in 2011, but he scored only 17 goals in three years and has found the net just once since arriving at Stoke last year.
Gary Lineker, England's second-highest goalscorer, wrote on Twitter: "Michael Owen to retire at the end of the season. One of England's greatest goal scorers, and a good bloke too. Wish him well." Former England manager Glenn Hoddle, who gave Owen his international debut, told Sky Sports News: "He is in the top four of our greatest ever finishers, along with Jimmy Greaves, Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer.
"Some might say he is at the top of that list." One of Owen's most memorable games for England saw him net a hat-trick in a 5-1 win over Germany in September 2001, and he seemed destined to break Bobby Charlton's national scoring record of 49 goals.
However, having earned his last cap in March 2008, he was unable to rise any higher than fourth place in the England scoring charts.
Club England managing director Adrian Bevington praised Owen's "outstanding professionalism" and revealed the Football Association was in talks about offering him an "ambassadorial role".
Another ex-England manager, Sven Goran Eriksson, lamented the recurrent injuries that hampered Owen's career.
"The only problem with Michael Owen was his injuries and it's been going on for a long, long time," said the Swede.
"That's a pity for him, a pity for England, a pity for the clubs he played for and a pity for football."