Former Liverpool, Real Madrid and Manchester United striker Michael Owen has announced his intention to retire from football at the end of the season.
The 33-year-old, who won 89 caps for England and is currently with Stoke, says it feels like the right time to bring the curtain down on an illustrious career in which he became the the first Englishman in 22 years to win the Ballon d'Or in 2001.
A statement on his website read: "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.
"Having progressed through the ranks at Liverpool to make my first team debut at 17, before embarking upon spells at Real Madrid, Newcastle United, Manchester United and Stoke City, not to mention representing my country on 89 occasions, I now feel it is the right time to bring the curtain down on my career."
After leaving Liverpool in 2004 having scored 158 goals in 297, including a memorable double at the Millennium Stadium to help the Reds come from behind to win the FA Cup against Arsenal in 2001, Owen joined Real Madrid, scoring 14 times in an injury-hit spell at the Bernabeu between 2004 and 2005.
Upon his return to England, Owen played for Newcastle and Manchester United, where he won his first Premier League title and the League Cup to add to the FA Cup, UEFA Cup and two League Cups he won at Anfield.
Having been released by Manchester United last summer Owen joined Stoke, but after a frustrating season so far has decided to call it a day.
"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," the statement continued.
"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.
"I would like to thank each and every one for the huge role they have played in helping me reach the top of my profession.
"Most of all though, I would like to thank my family. To my beautiful wife Louise, for her continued love and support through the many ups and downs in my career and for affording me the most precious gift of all, our children.
"To my Mum who has always taken the brunt of my frustrations yet continues to keep our family so tight-knit, a trait that has formed the foundations of my own success. Her dedication to me and my brothers and sisters is immeasurable.
"I'd like to thank Terry, Andy, Karen and Lesley for being so understanding and creating the perfect environment to grow up in. Last but not least, my Dad. We did it my old mate! 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".
The diminutive striker made his debut for Liverpool in 1996 and has been responsible for some of the most memorable England moments in living memory having burst onto the scene with his stunning solo goal against Argentina at the 1998 World Cup aged just 18.
The former Newcastle player bagged a hat-trick in England's historic 5-1 win over rivals in Germany in 2001 and ended up with 40 goals for the Three Lions, just nine short of Sir Bobby Charlton's all-time record.
After announcing his decision Owen took to Twitter to thank his fans for their well wishes, and admitted he was 'reduced to tears' after seeing his retirement reported on Sky Sports News.
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