Michael Owen, 30, once one of the greatest strikers in English football and on the world stage, having played for some of the biggest teams in Europe including Liverpool, Real Madrid, Newcastle and Manchester United may well be hanging up his boots at the end of this season.
With his two year contract at Manchester United, which he joined on a free transfer from Newcastle, running out at the end of the season and with no further talks with Sir Alex Ferguson about a possible contract extension, it seems that Owen may have to take stock and think about his future.
Since Owen burst onto the football scene with his pace and his impeccable eye for scoring he quickly gained fame and won titles with his boyhood club Liverpool F.C. Apart from club success, Owen has also received personal recognition being rewarded for his hard work and talent with a PFA Young Player of the Year Award in 1998, an honour which is given at the end of each year to one special young footballer under 23 years old in England. And having received The Golden Ball Award in 2001, given to the best player in the world, not only made him the world’s best player but also the youngest player to have ever received the prestigious award.
Owen’s pace scared defenders and there was always danger when Owen was in the opposition’s box, having an ability to score goals from nothing he quickly became known as a “poacher” pouncing on loose balls and on the smallest of opportunities when the ball entered the penalty area. Such was his talent that it had attracted the attention of big clubs from abroad and Real Madrid finally signed him in 2004, much to the disappointment of Liverpool fans. His time at Madrid however was not what he had hoped for, despite being one of the best young strikers in the world he was stifled and his talent unable to shine due to having to “share” the position of attack and the limelight with players such as Ronaldo, Raúl and Zidane. This was one of the main causes for Owen’s quick return to England, however despite the conflict for protagonist with his team mates he had still managed to score a respectable 34 goals for Madrid.
Owen will be hoping that United will extend his contract, but if no such offer is made and no other major Premier League club comes forward, he may well have to retire. Owen has said that he is of Premier League quality and can only score goals when he has the support from excellent players, such as the ones he has at United and that playing in a lower division team will mean a drop in quality and in goals.
Michael Owen was once one of the greatest young strikers in English history with so much potential and a bright future yet due to a career plagued by injuries and of being sidelined, Owen may well end up being one of the greatest players we have never truly seen.