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Michael Owen - Biography

The English football star and sports commentator was born in December 1979

Michael Owen smiling and looking at the camera© Getty Images
Hannah Watkin
Content Writer
Updated: June 27, 2023
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Born in Chester, England, on 14 December 1979, Michael James Owen grew up just across the border in Hawarden, North Wales. Football was in his blood as Michael's father Terry was a professional player at, among other clubs, Everton. Had Terry known his son would end up playing for arch-rivals Liverpool, perhaps he would have pushed him in a different direction! But all jokes aside, Terry evidently recognized his son's talent and allowed him to attend the Football Association's School of Excellence at Lilleshall in Staffordshire from the age of 14. 

Career beginnings

Keeping up his studies at Hawarden High School, Michael earned ten GCSEs, but despite the academic success it was still on the pitch where his future lay. On his 17th birthday he signed on as a full professional with Liverpool. Only a year later he was making his debut for the England squad. 

Football legend

Triumph after triumph followed. Michael's wonder goal against Argentina in the France '98 World Cup tournament firmly launched him on the international stage, and later the same year he was voted BBC Sports Personality Of The Year. At 18, Michael became not only the youngest player to ever play for England, but also the youngest to score for England, and then the youngest Englishman to play in a World Cup. 

In 2001, Michael bounced back from a devastating hamstring injury to score a hat-trick against old rivals Germany during a World Cup qualifier. In December, after a series of amazing performances, Michael was named European Player of the Year; the first England player to win the accolade since Kevin Keegan in 1979. 

Four months later, the player stood in for an injured David Beckham as England captain during a friendly against Paraguay, becoming the youngest captain in 40 years. In June he was at the forefront of England's World Cup team for the World Cup in Korea and Japan. And although they didn't win,  England still defied the odds by making it to the quarter finals. 

In August 2004 Owen made a surprise move to Real Madrid. The Spanish club paid around £8 million for the striker and Michael seemed overjoyed with the new challenge. But despite scoring plenty of goals for the Spanish giants, Michael struggled to find a regular place on the team, and by August 2005 Michael made a return to the English Premiere League alongside his friend Alan Shearer at Newcastle Utd. 

Personal life

Despite all this success, Michael never let it get in the way of valuing his family life. At heart a family man, the striker famously paid out £750,000 to buy his parents and two siblings a row of houses in the same street so they could be close to each other. 

The player has also stayed loyal to his first love, Louise Bonsall. The two met at primary school in 1984, and twenty years later got engaged. They married in June 2005.

In 2003, Michael and Louise became proud first-time parents, with the birth of a little girl, Gemma Rose. Two years later, the couple tied the knot in a romantic ceremony in Wales. And in 2006, their joy was added to with baby James Michael's arrival. They later had two more children, Emily May in October 2007 and Jessica in February 2010.

The pair's daughter Gemma starred in Love Island series 8 in June 2022, aged 19. She finished second.

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