A lot of people have been waiting for the announcement, but it took some time. Michael Owen will be retiring at the end of the 2012-2013 season after being quite irrelvant to the game in the last five seasons or so.
What happened between 1997, when he rose to prominence as that speedy striker for Liverpool, and rose to international stardom with that England goal against Argentina? Injuries is one thing – Owen had a lot of them – missing more than 10 matches annually for Liverpool, losing a little bit of speed each time he came back. He was still a goalscoring machine, even without being the fastest striker in the world, but then came the move to Real Madrid. He was never the same after his return to the Premier League, to the wrong club many thought.
His Newcastle tenure was successful, when he was healthy – but he rarely was, playing in only 14 matches through his first couple of seasons with the club. It was a much older, slower Michael Owen between 2007-2009, being part of the relegated team under Alan Shearer, helplessly trying to save the team on the final days.
Then came some sort of lifeline from Manchester United – Michael Owen played with the team for two seasons. Played is a bit of an overstatement. He was part of 31 league matches in three seasons, scoring 5 goals. At least there was that winner against Manchester City everyone remembers, and a league title he now has to put on his CV from 17 seasons of professional football. No one really wanted to touch him, but Stoke gave him a chance. Owen even has a league goal, bringing up his tally to 163 in the Premier League; it should have been so much more. His England tally of 40 should have been so much more.
But injuries, and wrong decisions, twice, when it came to choosing a club, derailed his career. Instead of being a lifelong legend at Anfield, he chose, in hindsight the wrong choice, going for greater glory and failed. Untapped potential is always somewhat of a tragic thing. And that might be the key word of Owen’s career, who did see some great peaks and heights during his earlier days, but eventually faded away, like the cartilage in his knee, and became nothing more than a joke on twitter.