Michael Owen today announced that he would be leaving Manchester United after they confirmed he would not be offered a new deal.
Many have declared his time there a failure, having played just 52 times in three seasons, but Owen was adamant it was an enjoyable time, despite the numerous injuries he suffered.
“The Manager informed me after our testimonial match on Tuesday that the club would not be offering me a new contract,” he said on his Twitter account.
“I have loved every minute of the 3 years I have spent at such a fantastic club.”
Whatever the verdict on Owen’s time playing for Sir Alex Ferguson, GMF has fond memories of his exploits in years gone by.
Owen has vowed to carry on playing and ruled out playing in the Championship as he still believes he can score goals at the highest level.
If there is one thing that is synonymous with Owen other than injuries, it is goals. The former Liverpool starlet scored heaps of them and has done so throughout his career.
For that exact reason, we have picked out five of the former England striker’s most memorable moments to recall how good a player he used to be.
A 17-year-old slip of a boy came on for Czech Republic international Patrick Berger just before the hour mark to make his debut.
It was the penultimate game of the season and manager Roy Evans’ team was already 2-0 down, so he decided to throw on trainee who had been pivotal in the club winning the FA Youth Cup a year earlier.
Talk about starting as you mean to go on, Owen outpaced the Dons defence running on to a through pass and finished with what would become typical aplomb. It had taken him 16 minutes of Premier League football to get his first goal and so the glittering career began.
Media and fans had been clamouring for the 18-year-old to be started by England manager Glenn Hoddle and he stated his own claim well enough when he came on to equalise in the second group game with Romania, only to still lose the game. The dye was cast though and he started the next two games, the second being a last 16 fixture with Argentina.
In the 20th minute he put England ahead with a goal that will be repeated for many years when recalling his career. David Beckham clipped the ball to him just inside the opposition half and Owen motored forwards past two defenders to clip into the top corner. It was a sensational solo strike, but would ultimately mean nothing when England’s penalty curses came back to haunt them.
This was one of the trophies in a successful year for Liverpool under Gerard Houllier and Owen singlehandedly put the Anfield club’s name on the cup. Arsenal dominated the game and should have been further ahead were it not for some under-par finishing and the hands of Stephane Henchoz.
Freddie Ljungberg did break the deadlock, however, in the 72nd minute, before Arsene Wenger’s side missed another couple of good chances. They were punished in the end when Owen slammed home a loose ball form corner to equalise with seven minutes remaining. He saved the best until last though, when he ran on to a Patrick Berger pass in the 88th minute, outpacing Tony Adams and Lee Dixon and slotting it past a despairing David Seaman.
It was an astonishing turnaround in a game that should have been dead as early as 30 minutes earlier, but Owen’s lightning pace and clinical finishing had won the day for the Merseysiders once more.
This was the greatest moment for any England team for many a year as Sven Goran Eriksson’s rejuvenated side went to Munich and thrashed Germany to put themselves in the driving seat to qualify for the World Cup in Japan and South Korea the year after.
This has been hailed as one of the best ever performances by an England side and Owen was at his devastating best throughout. The Liverpool striker constantly troubled with his pace and movement, scoring a brilliant hat-trick.
What will most likely be seen as his biggest contribution during his time at Old Trafford will be this derby against Mark Hughes’ newly-rich Manchester City and Owen used the game to endear himself to the Red Devils fans.
Wales striker Craig Bellamy had scored a sensational goal in the final minute and looked to have snatched a 3-3 draw for the visitors. However, the Citizens did not count for ‘Fergie Time’ and it was in the 96th minute that a pass found Owen on the left of the area before he tucked home the winner.
It was typical piece of cool-headed finishing from Owen and he cemented his place in Manchester folklore.
What has been your favourite Michael Owen moment? Let us know by leaving a comment below…