Michael Owen to retire after disappointing season with Stoke
Former Liverpool and England striker thanks fans, managers and family for 16-year top-flight career
SIXTEEN years after he made his first-team debut at Liverpool, footballer Michael Owen has announced he will retire from the professional game at the end of this season.
The 33-year-old, who was the great hope of England's 1998 World Cup bid and remains the national side's fourth-highest goal-scorer, has had a disappointing few months at Stoke City and this morning revealed his intention to call it a day, says the Daily Telegraph.
A statement from the Chester-born striker reads: "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 ... 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."
Owen went on to thank "managers, coaches, fellow players, backroom staff, the supporters and my own personal sponsors" for their support. He also credited his mother, his three siblings and his father, Terry Owen, a former Everton player.
Shortly after issuing the statement, Owen took to Twitter to say: "I'm overwhelmed. So many nice messages. Having known it for a while I thought I would be ok. Reduced to tears watching @SkySportsNews!"
Owen joined Stoke on a 12-month contract at the beginning of the season after three years with Manchester United when the injury-prone player missed many potential appearances.
But his tenure with the Potters has also been plagued by injury and it was January before he scored his first goal for the team. It was his 150th in the Premier League, a milestone reached by only six other players.
Owen has been a popular figure with fans and the media, though last October his candour caused him trouble when he admitted he had sometimes gone down unnecessarily when fouled. This led to headlines about diving which the striker angrily denied. ·