Bouncebackable Footballer: Michael Owen.

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Soccer - FIFA World Cup 2018 Inspection - Day Three - Manchester Town Hall

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Full Name:
Michael James Owen

DOB:
14 December 1979

Nationality:
English

International Football Affiliation:
England

Club Football History:
Liverpool Football Club (England), 1997-2004
Real Madrid CF (Spain) 2004-2005
Newcastle United Football Club (England) 2005-2009
Manchester United Football Club (England) 2009-2012

Stoke City Football Club (England) 2012-2013

Marital Status:
Married to Louise Bonsall

Monickers:
Midget Gem, St. Michael, Little Mickey, M.O. MOwen, M07

Little-known Facts:

1. Michael was actually eligible to play football for 3 of United Kingdom’s Territories:
England for his Birthplace and Nationality
Wales for his Residency
Scotland for his Grandmother’s Nationality

2. Michael’s only the 4th Player since WWII to play for both Liverpool FC and Manchester United FC.

3. His best friend is also named… Michael.

4. He’s a licensed helicopter pilot, doing the training course after signing for Newcastle United so he can go to work in Newcastle and still come home to his family in Wales.

5. He’s the only player in recent football history to have worn BOTH Liverpool FC (during Jamie Carragher’s Testimonial match, September 2010) and Manchester United shirts in 1 season.

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How do you even pay tribute to someone who has unknowingly influenced your life in such an immeasurable manner? It may be frustratingly improbable, but here is my best attempt, anyway:

Everything all started way back in 1997, one nondescript day, when I was still an impressionable schoolgirl browsing through our spanking new cable TV system, and I chanced upon a repeat of the English Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Wimbledon. Back then, I had virtually no idea of the Premier League, let alone European Football, but still, I paused and watched the match unfold. Then, this fresh-faced player bearing the no. 18 on his back came on and scored an empathic goal for the Red side that made me sit up and take notice. I still clearly remember my reaction back then: “Who is he? That boy is going to be a superstar.”

It was love at first goal, basically.

That fresh-faced goalscorer’s name was Michael Owen. And thus, my love affair (albeit one-way) with him, Liverpool FC, and England NT began.

The Future of English Football, circa 1997.

Fast forward several months later and World Cup 1998 was the buzz. For the first time in my country’s history, matches were shown on free TV, although on a delayed basis, but I did not mind at all as it gave me the opportunity to follow Michael and England NT’s journey.

Hailed as “The Next Big Thing” in Football, pre-World Cup 1998

Who could ever forget that goal against Argentina that announced his entry into Football Superstardom? The sheer fearlessness, coupled with his lightning pace and confident finishing belied his then-18 years of existence:

216 Appearances, 118 Goals. From 1997-2004, He was Liverpool’s Main Man–The One the squad relied on for inspiration and hope even from the direst of situations. And despite his youth, he stepped up and deliver like a seasoned pro.

Who could ever forget the FA Cup 2001 Final, the one now dubbed “Michael Owen Final”:

The Spark that ignited an amazing Liverpool comeback, circa 2001.

2001 was his Golden Year, as he shattered status quo by winning the European Football Player of the Year Award (the only Englishman after Kevin Keegan to do so), the World Soccer Player of the Year Award (the only Englishman and Premier League player to do so), and scoring his 100th goal for Liverpool:

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St. Michael of the Anfield Faithful.

89 Appearances, 40 Goals. From 1998 to 2008, England saw Michael break record after record: Previously holding the title of Youngest Ever Senior England Player of the Century, Youngest Senior Goalscorer, and currently he lies 4th in the table of England’s Greatest Ever Goalscorers.

While no decent football fan will ever forget his goal against Argentina, his spectacular hattrick against a full-strength German squad on that fateful night in September 2001 is and will remain a legend in FA history, a feat that future England strikers will find hard to beat:

The Hattrick Hero that shattered German hearts and egos, circa 2001.

There’s just something about him that makes him a terror in the eyes and hearts of the Argentinian NT, and with good reason:

Just in case you need reminding of how much of an impact player he is for the Three Lions, have a look at some of his most important and impressive goals for his country:

35 Appearances. 13 Goals. The summer of 2004 was when he decided to leave Liverpool for the sunny climes of Spain and the proverbial greener grass of Real Madrid CF. It broke my heart in a million ways to see him play for another club in a different league and country, but in the bigger scheme of things, how can you blame him for wanting to experience playing alongside Zinedine Zidane, Raul, Ronaldo (the original one, not the greasy, diving cad), Figo, Casillas, and Beckham?

Real Madrid President Fiorentino Perez then declared that Owen “fits perfectly into the Real Madrid style both for the way he plays and his extraordinary behaviour”. After Luis Figo in 2000, Zinedine Zidane (2001), Ronaldo (2002) and David Beckham (2003), Michael was the summer’s star signing, even if Marca, Madrid’s local sports daily, turned up their noses at him and wrote, “Let’s face it, Owen is not a galactico” – a verdict it conveniently revised after the ex-Liverpool forward scored his sixth goal in eight appearances. “Owen is an authentic killer,” they sweetly sang. But perhaps the first verdict was spot on, Owen is not a Galactico because he is an authentic English Fox, there to play the best football he can, not a money-making machine nor a pawn for political aggrandizement.

Who says Englishmen cannot do well in the Primera Liga? He had the Best Goals-to-Playing Time Ratio in the League that season. Only internal strife and politics prevented him from fulfilling his real potential.

Who says Englishmen cannot do well in the Primera Liga? He had the Best Goals-to-Playing Time Ratio in the League that season. Only internal strife and politics prevented him from fulfilling his real potential.

Only selected Englishmen can claim to have scored a goal at the famous El Clasico. It was so dramatic and high-charged that it even made the cut to Real: The Movie:

71 Appearances. 26 Goals. His brief flirtation with a foreign league ended when Newcastle United broke their transfer fee record and brought him to Geordieland for a whopping 16 million pounds. The transfer made headlines yet again as Liverpool fans felt slighted and snubbed, but with limited funds and a manager unwilling to yield, Michael’s desire to don the Red shirt once more did not translate into reality. The reality was that the Toon welcomed him with open arms and he soon became their new “Messiah”, but a brilliant goalscoring run on his first season was broken by a foot injury sustained during  their Christmas fixtures, and hereonafter, his time at the Toon had been a mixed bag of fortunes.

His time at Newcastle may have had more downs than ups, but when he’s available he made sure he did his part.

2009 became a landmark year for Michael, as his contract with Newcastle United expired and speculation rose exponentially on which club will take a gamble on him. Senior players of Liverpool FC made it no secret that they want their ex-teammate back, and considering Anfield’s goalscoring crisis, coupled with Michael being a free agent, it seemed a sensible match. However, July 3, 2009 was the day I found out that Michael has officially signed with Liverpool FC’s biggest rival club, Manchester United, and truth be told, the choice, and the sheer surprise, speed, and randomness of the events had actually rendered me speechless for a few minutes.

Fast forward to the present, and while the Liverpool supporter in me is still hurt whenever I see him play wearing the crest of Manchester United, the Owen supporter in me is happy to see that he has had moments of brilliance for his new club, most notably his derby winner against Manchester City, his equalising goal vs Aston Villa in the Carling Cup Final, and his hattrick vs Wolfsburg in the Champions League.

The Move and the Shirt Number that will live on in Football Infamy for many years to come.

Multimedia Endorser. Horseracing Enthusiast. Real Estate Magnate. Most important, he is a Philantropist who knows how to appreciate and share his blesings. Heck, he can even maintain wholesomeness when saying the F-word:

It is far too easy to spout Opta Joe and Wikipedia-esque stats, but the bottomline is that his achievements in such a short span of time speak volumes about how extraordinary his footballing talent is, and anyone who has the gall to say anything contrary deserves a swift lobotomy.

For some, his career decisions remains an enigma: Does the end truly justify the means? His ability to uphold a steely sense of self-containment is often misconstrued as disloyalty, selfishness and greed, but if one considers the number of hardknocks and sucker-punches he has taken in the chin with virtually no complaints, you’d be hard-pressed not to admire his brand of determination and conviction. By now, he is well and truly cognizant of the fact that he is a polarizing figure in football, but he’s also shrewd enough to know that he owes no apologies to anyone for his decisions. It’s not as simple as black and white, it’s different shades of green and sometimes even yellow and red–that’s Football.

The quality I admire most about him above all is that he is a fighter and a survivor. He faces all career storms with quiet dignity and even wry humour. When everything else points to the negative, he keeps his head down and just keeps on working. I firmly believe he is one of the last old-school, thinking-man’s footballer in this era, a breed that is sadly quickly becoming extinct.

You can’t keep a good man down. Criticisms and injuries come and go, but true talent will always prevail.

Setbacks may bruise him, but he’ll never be knocked out.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Original English Wonderboy.

European Footballer of 2001.

All-around consummate professional.

Son. Brother. Husband. Father. Friend.

The man who can break my heart in a million pieces but who knows how to glue it all back together as if nothing ever happened.

Icon of his Football Generation.

There is Only One.

Michael James Owen,

Bouncebackable Footballer.


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