Player profile

Michael Owen

Birthdate: 14 December 1979
Birthplace: Chester, England
Other clubs: Real Madrid (2004-05), Newcastle United (2005-09), Manchester United (2009-12), Stoke City (2012-13)
Bought from: Local
Signed for LFC: Joined 1990 - Professional 18.12.1996
International debut: 11.02.1998 vs.Chile
International caps: 89/40 (60/26 at LFC) - 26.03.2008
Liverpool debut: 06.05.1997
Last appearance: 15.05.2004
Debut goal: 06.05.1997
Last goal: 15.05.2004
Contract expiry: 14.08.2004
Win ratio: 48.82% W: 145 D: 81 L: 71
Games/goals ratio: 1.88
Honours: FA Cup 2001; League Cup 2001, 2003; UEFA Cup 2001; PFA Young Player of the Year 2001, European Footballer of the Year 2001
Total games/goals opposite LFC: 6 / 0
LFC league games/goals: 216 / 118
Total LFC games/goals: 297 / 158

Player profile

Terry Owen knew that his son had a gift for goals: "When he was five or six we used to take him along to the mini club, a kind of kid fun session at the Deeside Leisure Centre. There were all sorts of activities going on, trampolining, table-tennis, but all he was interested in was the football games. And his co-ordination and eye for a ball was quite exceptional for a five-year-old. Most lads of that age just toe punting the ball but Michael was a natural - he was tucking shots into the corner of the net with the side of his foot. You would have thought he was three or four years older than he was. It was remarkable." Michael supported his dad's favourites, Everton, as a lad. Terry, who played a couple of games for Everton, left it to Michael to decide: "The first club to spot him playing for Deeside was Liverpool. Then Brian Kidd came down from Manchester United and there were plenty of others. But Steve Heighway, the Liverpool youth development officer, wrote us a smashing letter and it was love at first sight for Michael, he was impressed from day one."At eight, Owen was selected for the Deeside Area Primary School's Under-11 team. At nine he was captain and and at ten he smashed Ian Rush's twenty-year record for the same team by scoring a staggering 97 goals in a single season, improving Rushie's record by 25 goals. His mother remembers: "He scored 97 in his last season and he broke Gary Speed's appearance record because he'd played in all three seasons for the 11-year-olds since he was eight." The prodigy attended the FA's School of Excellence at Lilleshall and he was soon playing for England teams from Under 15 upwards, of course breaking more scoring records with 28 goals in 20 games for the England u-15s and u-16s.

In the 1995/96 season Owen played for Liverpool's youth team even though he was still at Lilleshall. Most of the players were 18, but Owen was only 16. He scored a hat-trick against cup holders Man Utd in the quarter-finals, netting the winner in added time. Owen scored another hat-trick in a 4-2 win in the first leg of the semi against Crystal Palace. Liverpool were 3-0 down after only 50 minutes in the second leg, but Jamie Cassidy reduced the deficit. The scores were level 5-5 after 90 minutes with Owen taking control in extra-time and scoring two goals. Liverpool faced West Ham in the final, played over two legs as well. West Ham hadn't lost in 24 consecutive games, boasting future stars like Rio Ferdinand and Frank Lampard. Owen was missing from the first leg at Upton Park as he was busy scoring both goals for the English u-16 team against Turkey in the European youth finals in Austria. Jon Newby shone in his absence as Liverpool won 2-0. Owen was back for the second leg alongside teammates such as Jamie Carragher and David Thompson. Liverpool fell behind early but Owen equalized with his eleventh in five cup matches and Stuart Quinn scored the winner. Liverpool had won the FA Youth Cup for the first time in the club’s history.

Owen celebrated his seventeenth birthday by signing a professional contract and being handed a place in Roy Evans' senior squad. Steve Heighway had no doubt that a glittering career was ahead: "He is ready for whatever you throw at him; nothing fazes Michael Owen. He's ready. If the manager wants a recommendation from me, Michael gets it." Owen declared his intentions: "I've scored between 40 and 45 goals this season in 30 to 35 games and now my aim is a first-team place in the next year or so." Karl-Heinz Riedle, who prior to joining Liverpool in the summer of 1997 had never heard of Owen, joined his ever-growing fan club. "It's unbelievable when you see him play to realise that he's only 17," he said. "He's such a good player, so very quick and for his age he has excellent vision and awareness. He's a great player already and in one or two years he will become a very great player." Owen had got his first taste of first-team football in the last couple of games in 1996/97, scoring on his debut against Wimbledon. Evans’ plan was to ease the young striker into the first team but Fowler’s injury meant he was in the starting line-up in the first game of the 1997/98 season: "We said before the season started that we would take care of him, nurse him along, but he has changed all that. He wants to play all the time." Owen scored from the penalty spot in the first game of the season against the Dons again. Regular penalty taker Robbie Fowler was absent and Evans handed the responsibility to his young prodigy: "I asked him before the game if he wanted to take the penalties, and he said he did. I asked: 'Is that me pushing or you wanting?' - and he insisted he wanted to do it. But he still had to fight with Danny (Murphy) to get the ball - that's not bad confidence from a couple of kids." On 16 September Owen made his European debut against Celtic at Parkhead. Did that faze him? No, it took him only six minutes to get on the scoresheet. On 1 October 1997 Owen signed a five-year contract with Liverpool worth a basic £2.5million. His £10,000-a-week deal made him the highest paid teenager in British football. He became the youngest-ever player in the twentieth century to make his debut for England, aged 18 years and 59 days, on 11 February 1998. He was top-scorer in his first Premier League season with 18 goals, along with Dion Dublin and Chris Sutton, and voted PFA Young Player of the Year and third in the PFA Player of the Year award. Owen's incredible goal against Argentina in the World Cup in 1998 made him an international star.

"Form is temporary, class is permanent.", is a phrase that has often been repeated in Owen's career. He always delivered a fair amount of goals every season when fit. Forty-six goals in 84 matches in Owen's first two full campaigns was way above of what could be expected as the team was going through a big transition; Roy Evans stepping aside for Gerard Houllier. Owen's hamstring first gave way on 12 April 1999 against Leeds at Elland Road putting him out of action for almost five months. Owen returned to score again 20+ goals in the 2000/01 season when he was crowned the "Prince of Wales" when his two late goals against Arsenal won the FA Cup in 2001. His ongoing hamstring trouble caused concern as he was so dependent on his burst of pace. Owen crowned a memorable 12 months when he became the only Liverpool player to be voted European Footballer of the Year, in 2001, becoming the first Briton to win Ballon d'Or since Kevin Keegan in 1979. Owen received 176 points, 34 more than the formidable Raul, the Real Madrid and Spain forward. Owen was at his most prolific in the 2001/02 season with a goal in every 1.5 games and made a career-high 54 appearances in the 2002/03 when he was for the second consecutive season only two goals away from the 30 goals mark. Houllier made way for Rafa Benítez in the summer of 2004 and it also signalled the end for Owen at Liverpool. He wanted to test pastures new.

Real Madrid president, Florentine Perez, started as early as in March 2002 to woo Owen. "Owen can be one of the world's great players and the best players must play for Real Madrid." Houllier laughed off any apparent interest: "They might be able to afford Ronaldo but they cannot afford Michael Owen. For that kind of money they could only buy his left foot but he is not going anywhere. Don't ever dream that Michael is going anywhere else, even if I am reading about other clubs. Michael is Liverpool through and through and he is staying with me." In the end £8 million prized him away from Anfield to Real. "Since I was 10 I didn't just want to be a footballer, I wanted to be the best footballer in the world," Owen explained. "There are still lots of people ahead of me but if you want to get into that bracket, you have to break out of comfort zones. That is a nutshell is why I made the life changing decision to leave Liverpool for Real Madrid. I have always had a burning desire to push myself and that is why I was disappointed with some of the defeatist reaction to my transfer. I don't know if it is an English trait to settle for what you've got but I was taken aback when the first thing some people said was 'how's he going to get into the first team'. They didn't say 'fantastic, he's moving to the biggest club in the world." Thirteen goals in 20 starts was by no means a bad record in Owen's sole season at the Bernabeu but he was still a fringe player with Raul and Ronaldo firmly first choice. Owen held discussions with Liverpool but once Newcastle offered a staggering £17 million a return to the Reds was out of the question. Liverpool's Chief Executive Rick Parry could hardly believe what he was witnessing. "Michael eventually emerges three coaches later as fifth choice, on a big wage and not happy and then somebody knocks on the door and offers to double their money," Parry said. "I'm sure the first reaction was to rub their eyes in surprise. From our point of view, Michael on the right terms - certainly, but not on the wrong terms."

Newcastle in total conceded 14 goals to Michael Owen in 11 games when he was a Red so maybe it was no surprise they wanted to have him on their side! However, this risky move only delivered 26 goals in 81 League matches in four seasons. Owen scored an impressive seven goals in 11 matches in 2005/06, and had recovered in time to be selected for England duty in the 2006 World Cup. However, a serious knee-injury in the first minute of the group match against Sweden kept him out of action for almost whole of the following campaign. Owen's Newcastle contract ended on the last day of June 2009 with him leaving the relegated club to look for a new employer as a free agent. Defending Premier League champions Manchester United dramatically became Owen's third English League club to the dismay of Liverpool supporters. Few can have been surprised that Owen's high-profile and controversial move to Manchester was wrecked by injury. Owen's highlights at United were a very late winner in the Manchester derby, a Champions League hat-trick at Wolfsburg and a Premier League medal in 2011. As a free agent following his release by United in the summer of 2012, Owen did not have to conform to the normal transfer-window regulations. On 4 September 2012 the 32-year-old signed for Stoke City on a 12-month pay-as-you-play contract. In December 2012 Owen reflected on his personal website on his struggle with injuries, having seen former teammates enjoy a lengthy career into their late 30's. Owen played 316 games for club and country ahead of his twenty-fourth birthday compared with 112 by Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes (123) and David Beckham (184). "Had I been managed differently I would have been at my best for longer. As a youngster, I was considered exceptional and in many ways, that was to my detriment. While I was playing every game available to me, there was another young kid in the Liverpool Academy called Steven Gerrard who was also showing huge potential. Unlike me, who was playing 80-odd games a year, Stevie just couldn’t stay fit. I am convinced that this played to his advantage in the long run. I would play a full season with Liverpool and then I was jetting off to play for England, sometimes playing three years above my age group at the highest level.” Owen was convinced that his hamstring injury in April 1999 proved a key moment. “My body made me pay for pushing it to the limit too often. My hamstring snapped in two and it was at that point that my ability to perform unimpeded was finished. My rehabilitation was compromised due to our physio leaving the club that summer and not being replaced until the following season. With no regular medical care, a routine injury was destined to restrict me for the rest of my career. People laugh when I say that I am not naturally injury prone. It is my genuine opinion that I have become so due to overplaying at a young age, suffering an injury and then having a dreadful rehabilitation at such a critical time. I cringe when I look back on a quote I came out with after Gérard Houllier rested me for a game. 'I will rest when I'm 40', I muttered in an interview."

Owen's playing-career drew quietly to a close in May 2013. Stoke City used him only rarely in his final season, so rarely that he did not make a single start for them. All his eight appearances came from the substitutes' bench. The last of his one hundred and fifty Premier League goals came at Swansea in January. It was his only goal of the season. 

Liverpool as a club and Liverpool supporters as a group saw the best years of Michael Owen's life as a professional footballer. Yes, he was sometimes beset by injuries in his Anfield days but nowhere near as much as he has suffered since he left Anfield for Madrid in 2004. Despite his great personal achievements at Liverpool Owen was never quite beloved on the Kop as might be expected. From the player's point of view, he might always regret stating that he left Liverpool 'to win the big trophies', only to watch from a distance as his new club won nothing and his old club won the biggest trophy of all just a year later.

Appearances per season

SeasonLeagueFALCEuropeOtherTotal
Totals2161514502297
1996-1997 200002
1997-1998 36044044
1998-1999 30226040
1999-2000 27120030
2000-2001 285211046
2001-2002 292011143
2002-2003 352412154
2003-2004 29306038
2004-2005 000000

A more detailed look at the player's appearances

TotalOpponent
16Arsenal
14Aston Villa
14Manchester United
13Tottenham
12Everton
12Southampton
12Middlesbrough
11Newcastle United
10Chelsea
10Derby
9Charlton Athletic
9Leeds United
9Blackburn Rovers
9West Ham United
8Coventry City
7Sunderland
7Leicester City
7Fulham
6Wimbledon
6Bolton Wanderers
5Sheffield Wednesday
5Crystal Palace
5Manchester City
4Celtic
4Birmingham City
4Valencia
3Roma
3Barcelona
3Bradford City
3Ipswich Town
3Portsmouth
2Sheffield United
2WBA
2Nottingham Forest
2Wolves
2Barnsley
2Kosice
2Galatasaray
2Leverkusen
2Spartak Moscow
2Basel
2Auxerre
2Strasbourg
2Celta Vigo
2Rapid Bucharest
2Borussia Dortmund
2Porto
2Levski Sofia
2Vitesse Arnhem
2Marseille
1Steaua Bucharest
1Olimpija
1Wycombe
1Alaves
1Haka
1Boavista
1Slovan Liberec
1Olympiacos
1Grimsby Town
1Tranmere Rovers
1Watford
1Bayern Munich
1Port Vale
1Hull City
1Huddersfield Town
1Rotherham United
Total Started/substitutions
267 Started
13 On the bench
30 Substitute
84 Substituted

Wartime Appearances / Goals

SeasonAppearancesGoals
No records to display.

Stats note

Milestone Appearances

#DateAgainstStadiumCompetition
106.05.1997WimbledonSelhurst ParkLeague
5009.09.1998Coventry CityAnfieldLeague
10012.12.1999Huddersfield TownThe McAlpine StadiumFA Cup
15031.03.2001Manchester UnitedAnfieldLeague
20009.04.2002LeverkusenBay ArenaEurope
25013.03.2003CelticCeltic ParkEurope

Milestone Goals

#MinuteDateAgainstStadiumCompetition
17406.05.1997WimbledonSelhurst ParkLeague
505313.10.1999SouthamptonThe DellLeague Cup
1008829.12.2001West Ham UnitedUpton ParkLeague
150215.02.2004PortsmouthAnfieldFA Cup

Related Articles

Carra and Owen reminisce

From 25 April 2013 in The Daily Express.More

Michael Owen - European footballer of the Year

An article from The Guardian on 18th of December 2001.More

Dalglish stunned by Owen's strike

Reaction in the Mirror on Liverpool 1 - 0 Newcastle United on 20 January 1998.More

Press Association report

Press Association report on Manchester United - Liverpool on 10.04.1998. Michael Owen sees red!More

Liverpool Echo report

Report by Ric George of The Liverpool Echo on Liverpool - Grimsby Town on 18.11.1997.More

Liverpool Echo report

Liverpool Echo report on Sheffield Wednesday - Liverpool on 14.02.1998.More

Owen's double gives Liverpool fresh hope

The Telegraph report on Liverpool - Portsmouth on 17.03.2004.More

Liverpool hit their stride as Owen rumours run and run

The Telegraph report on Fulham - Liverpool on 02.11.2003.More

Owen hits century mark in rout

The Telegraph report on WBA - Liverpool on 26.04.2003.More

Two down - one to go

Liverpoolfc.tv report on Liverpool - Arsenal on 12.05.2001.More

Impressive Owen claims hat-trick to knacker Newcastle

The Observer report on Liverpool - Newcastle on 05.05.2001.More

WHO would dare drop Michael Owen now?

Liverpool Echo report on Liverpool - Aston Villa on 06.09.2000.More

A STUNNING goal by Robbie Fowler put Liverpool ahead

Liverpool Echo match report on Liverpool - Arsenal on 28.08.1999. More

Owen's touch returns with a bang

The Telegraph report on Man City - Liverpool on 28.09.2002.More

Press Association match report

Match report from Press Association on Liverpool - Nottingham Forest on 24.10.1998. More

Press Association match report

Match report from Press Association on Newcastle United - Liverpool on 30.08.1998.More

Press Association match report

Match report from Press Association on Southampton - Liverpool on 16.08.1998. More

Press Association match report

Press Association match report on Celtic - Liverpool on 16.09.1997.More

Press Association report

Match report from Press Association on Wimbledon - Liverpool on 09.09.1997.More

Lifeless Liverpool wave the white flag

Match report from Wimbledon - Liverpool on 06.05.1997 by Press Association.More

Owen goes back to the future

On Boxing Day the striker will run out at Anfield wearing a Newcastle shirt. But, says Rafael Benítez, it won't be long before he returns for good. December 24, 2005 The Guardian. More

Why I made the move

Michael Owen comes clean in his column in The Times why a few hours earlier he chose Newcastle over a return to Liverpool.More

Liverpool lacked real desire to woo Owen

The Telegraph 3rd September 2005.More

Owen in brain scan fear

It has been revealed that Michael Owen had two brain scans and feared that he could have had a blood clot. From Soccernet - 05.11.2000.More

Michael Owen's penalty record

13 out of 23 penalties scored. Not a good record by any means.More

2001-2007: Into The New Millennium

For the first time in 16 long years since the shame and tragedy that was Heysel, Liverpool took their place in European football's top club competition. Chris Wood documents Liverpool's European history.More

Michael Owen makes Euro history

Michael Owen scored his 21st goal in European competitions versus Olimpia Ljubljana in Slovenia.More

Owen is ready for big time

by David Walmsley of "The Liverpool Echo" from January 1997.More

4 seconds - That's all it took Owen to prove his genius to amazed England bosses.

An article from the People on 31 August 1997.More

Related Quotes

"I remember the first time I ever saw Michael play which was when I was at Tranmere, and our reserve team played Liverpool at Anfield. I played in the game for Tranmere and Michael came on as sub and scored an absolutely wonder goal from about 30-yards!

I'd heard about him before and he lived up to the expectations that night, and he's certainly exceeded those expectations up to now. I think he is a marvellous player to watch. His pace is electrifying and for any defenders you can't defend against pace.

There's no reason why he will leave Liverpool and there's no reason why he should. Money isn't the be all and end all nowadays and Michael loves the club. If Michael was to stay at Liverpool for the rest of his career he would become the all-time best ever striker I think."

John Aldridge

Roy Evans said to me, 'Karl, I have a new young talent that I want you to see.' And then, of course, I saw Michael playing in training, and I said to myself, 'This boy is not just a young talent, he is going to be a bloody great player!'

Karl Heinz Riedle on Michael Owen

"It's important having a core of local lads in the side, especially for the fans. And if you play for Liverpool, you're a Liverpool fan."

Owen in 2002

"Sometimes I’m wrongly portrayed as a glamorous celebrity — but I don’t recognise myself as that person. I am able to afford a few more luxuries in life but it would be a strange person who didn’t like driving a smart car, living in a nice house and taking his family away on holidays."

Michael Owen in 2001

"We want Michael Owen. Owen can be one of the world's great players and the best players must play for Real Madrid."

Real Madrid president Florentine Perez admits Real's interest in March 2002.

"It was strange going back on Boxing Day. I certainly didn't love every minute of it. People have talked about the 'hostile' reception. But I'd say the fans just took the mickey out of me. It wasn't nasty and they didn't insult me. It was more jokey. My family are from Liverpool, so I know what scouse humour is like. I'm not sure what I expected. I suppose I expected a bit of a clap before the match, then a proper, hard game of football with some jokes and songs along the way. I got all of that except the clap at the start! Yet I still respect Liverpool and Liverpool still respect me. Even now, I get nice letters every day from Liverpool fans and I'm pleased to see them doing well."

Michael Owen on his reception in his first game as a Newcastle player at Anfield

"Since I was 10 I didn't just want to be a footballer, I wanted to be the best footballer in the world. There are still lots of people ahead of me but if you want to get into that bracket, you have to break out of comfort zones. That is a nutshell is why I made the life changing decision to leave Liverpool for Real Madrid.

"I have always had a burning desire to push myself and that is why I was disappointed with some of the defeatist reaction to my transfer. I don't know if it is an English trait to settle for what you've got but I was taken aback when the first thing some people said was 'how's he going to get into the first team'. They didn't say 'fantastic, he's moving to the biggest club in the world.'"

Michael Owen on his move from Liverpool to Real Madrid

The player was in the squad the following season

SeasonShirt #Position
1996-1997 18 Striker
1997-1998 18 Striker
1998-1999 10 Striker
1999-2000 10 Striker
2000-2001 10 Striker
2001-2002 10 Striker
2002-2003 10 Striker
2003-2004 10 Striker
2004-2005 10 Striker
* Note, Since the 1993-94 season players have been allocated a fixed number.

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