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Michael Owen to retire at end of season

Former England striker Michael Owen has announced his intentions to retire at the end of the season
Former Liverpool and Aston Villa manager Gerard Houllier reacts to the news that Michael Owen will retire at the end of the season

STOKE, England -- Former England striker Michael Owen says he will retire from soccer at the end of the Premier League season.

The 33-year-old Owen scored 40 goals for England in 89 appearances, making him one of his country's leading scorers. He also played at Liverpool, Manchester United and Real Madrid in a club career that has been plagued by injuries.

He currently plays for Stoke in the Premier League.

Owen says "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."

Owen first came onto the scene at 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 to 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."


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