Former England striker Michael Owen has announced that he will be retiring from football at the end of the season.
Big day today. I have decided that this will be my last season as a professional footballer. Full statement here: michaelowen.com
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• Blog: Owen calls it a day Owen, 33, signed for Stoke on a free transfer last summer but has had yet another frustrating season that has been hampered by injury problems, limiting him to just seven appearances for the Potters. The former Liverpool, Real Madrid, Newcastle and Manchester United forward announced the news on his personal website on Tuesday morning.
"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," he said.
"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.
"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.
"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."
He also went on to thank his wife and family for the important roles they played in his 16-year professional career.
Owen first burst onto the scene at the age of 17 for Liverpool in 1997 and went on to have seven successful years at the club. He was part of the side which claimed a Treble of the FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Cup in 2001 - thanks in part of his late, match-winning brace in the FA Cup final win over Arsenal. That same year he scored a hat-trick in England's 5-1 win over Germany in Munich, and he was rewarded for his exploits by winning the Ballon d'Or.
He moved to Real Madrid in 2004, but after a single season in which he scored 13 goals in 36 Liga appearances he moved to Newcastle. It was at St James' Park where his fitness problems really began to hamper his career. After four injury-hit seasons he moved onto Manchester United, where he won his only Premier League title in 2011. He was released from Old Trafford last summer as his injury problems continued to limit his appearances, and he joined Stoke as a free agent.
In all, Owen represented England on 89 occasions, scoring 40 goals which put him fourth in the nation's all-time list behind Jimmy Greaves (44), Gary Lineker (48) and Sir Bobby Charlton (49). The only England player to date to score in four different international tournaments, Owen also captained his country on eight occasions.
However, an international career which included his individual wonder goal against Argentina and his treble in Munich never recovered from an injury picked up against Sweden at the 2006 World Cup.
Frank Lampard, speaking at an England press conference on Tuesday, paid tribute to the striker.
"Fantastic player, the kind of player you are very proud to play alongside," he said. "I played with him quite a few times, watched him score goals for England in World Cups when I wasn't there, so I think he will go down in our history in England as one of the greatest goal-scorers and strikers we've had. He deserves very high praise.
"The hat-trick in Munich was obviously fantastic, but to come on at the age that he did against Argentina with a bang and score a goal of such eye-catching quality was something very special. It is one of those moments that sticks in everyone's mind. Not just Michael Owen moments, but England in general.
"Without maybe some injury problems at the latter end, he would have gone on and broken all the goal-scoring records and probably get 100 caps, but he should not have any real frustrations because his career was absolutely top drawer for club and country."
Big day today. I have decided that this will be my last season as a professional footballer. Full statement here: michaelowen.com— michael owen (@themichaelowen) March 19, 2013