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Michael Owen

Owen's youthful enthusiasm, pace and talent made him a popular player across the country, and many fans were keen for him to be made a regular player for the team ahead of 1998 World Cup.

india Updated: May 17, 2006 15:05 IST

 Current Club: Newcastle United
 Birth Date: December 14, 1979
 Birth Place: Chester, England
 Nickname: The "Boy Wonder", Saint Michael
 Height: 173cm
 Weight: 78Kg
 Position: Forward
 Full Name: Michael James Owen

Owen's youthful enthusiasm, pace and talent made him a popular player across the country, and many fans were keen for him to be made a regular player for the team ahead of 1998 World Cup. His first goal for England, against Morocco in another friendly game just prior to this tournament, only increased these calls. The goal also made him the youngest ever player to have scored for England, until his record was surpassed by Wayne Rooney in 2003.

Although he was selected for the World Cup squad by manager Glenn Hoddle, he was kept on the bench as a substitute in the first two games. However, his substitute appearance in the second game against Romania saw him score a goal and hit the post with another shot, almost salvaging the defeat. After that, Hoddle had little choice but to play him from the start, and in England's second round match against Argentina he scored a sensational individual goal, voted by many as the goal of the tournament and really bringing him to the attention of the world football scene.

England lost that match and went out of the tournament, but Owen had sealed his place as an automatic England choice and his popularity in the country was huge. At the end of the year he won a public vote to be elected winner of the prestigious BBC Sports Personality of the Year title, the award's youngest ever recipient.

He has since played for England in Euro 2000 and Euro 2004, and the 2002 World Cup, scoring goals in all three tournaments. This makes him the only player to ever have scored in four major tournaments for England. He even scored a hat-trick against Germany in the 2001 qualifying campaign for the 2002 World Cup, the first English player to score a hat-trick against Germany since Geoff Hurst, who scored his hat trick in the 1966 World Cup Final. He subsequently scored a second hat-trick against Colombia in New Jersey in May 2005.

In April 2002, he was named as England's captain for a friendly match against Paraguay in place of the injured regular captain David Beckham. Owen was the youngest England skipper since Bobby Moore in 1963, and since then has regularly captained England during any absence for Beckham.

As of November 2005, Owen has been capped seventy-five times for England and scored thirty-five goals: he is fourth in the list of all-time top scorers for the England team, behind Bobby Charlton (49 goals), Gary Lineker (48) and Jimmy Greaves (44). He and Lineker jointly hold the record of twenty-two goals for England in competitive matches, i.e. World Cup and European Championship games and the qualifiers for those tournaments.

In November 2005, Owen was the hero in a thrilling friendly against Argentina in which England were trailing 2-1, until Owen scored two late goals in the 89th minute and late on in injury time to give England a 3-2 win over the Argentinians.