Former England striker Michael Owen to retire from football at end of season
Former England striker Michael Owen has announced he will retire from football at the end of the season.
The 33-year-old who began his career at Liverpool before spells at Real Madrid, Newcastle United, Manchester United and current club Stoke City, announced the decision on his website, www.michaelowen.com.
A statement on the site 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.
"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.
"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".
Owen, whose father Terry played for Everton, joined Liverpool at the age of 12 and broke club and international scoring records throughout his youth career.
He continued his prolific strike rate when he broke into the first team picture at Anfield aged 17, scoring on his debut against Wimbledon in May 1997 and then winning the Premier League Golden Boot the following season after rattling in 18 goals.
The teenager burst onto the international scene at the 1998 World Cup when he slalomed through the Argentina defence to score England's second goal of a memorable quarter final defeat.
Although he began to be plagued by the hamstring injuries that would blight his career, he went on to be named the FIFA World Player of the Year in 2001 after helping Liverpool lift a unique treble of UEFA Cup, FA Cup and League Cup.
2001 was also the year of Owen's finest hour in an England shirt as his hat-trick in Munich inspired a landmark 5-1 win over Germany.
After scoring 158 goals in 297 games, Owen elected to leave Liverpool in August 2004, joining Real Madrid in an £8m move but he failed to nail down a first team place at the Bernabeu despite continuing to score whenever he was selected.
Newcastle brought Owen back to the Premier League a year later for a fee reported to be around £15m but injuries plagued his four years at St James' Park and he managed just 79 appearances, scoring 30 goals.
Old Trafford was Owen's next destination as he joined Manchester United on a free transfer and famously came off the bench to score the winner in a heart-stopping 4-3 win over neighbours City in September 2009.
Owen spent three years at United, scoring 17 goals in 52 games before moving to Stoke City where to date he has scored one goal in seven appearances.