Michael Owen - Biography
"I hate to admit this," says footballer Michael Owen, "but I don't even know how to make a cup of tea or coffee. I can boil a kettle for pot noodle and I've been known to warm up some food in the microwave." Ah, but Michael, your talents lie elsewhere...
The player's story is every schoolboy's dream; his has been a magical ride equalled only by that of Harry Potter. At 18, he became the youngest player ever to play for England, then the youngest to score for England, then the youngest Englishman to play in a World Cup. Even Brazilian soccer god Pele said of him: "My favourite player is Michael Owen." Boy Wonder indeed.
But since his early days Michael has consistently proved he is also more than that. He bounced back from a devastating hamstring injury to score a hat-trick against old rivals Germany when England historically triumphed 5-1 in a World Cup qualifier in September 2001. And he went on to become the first England player to score three goals against Germany since Sir Geoff Hurst in the 1966 World Cup final, demonstrating that Boy Wonder had come of age.
Michael was born in Chester, England, on December 14, 1979, to parents Terry and Janette, and grew up in the family home just across the border in Hawarden, North Wales. Football was in his blood; Michael's father 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 dad recognised 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.
Keeping up his studies at Hawarden High School, Michael earned ten GCSEs, but despite the academic success he knew where his future lay. On his 17th birthday he signed on as a full professional and a year later he was playing for Liverpool and making his debut for the England squad.
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. Then, in the 1998/1999 season he suffered every striker's nightmare the hamstring injury that was to mar his game for the next two years.
Recovery was slow, but he proved resilient. In December 2001, after a series of blistering performances including the one against Germany 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, 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. Although they didn't win, the team defied the odds by making it to the quarter finals.
In August 2004 Owen made the surprise move to Real Madrid. The Spanish club paid around £8 million for the striker and Michael seemed overjoyed with the new challenge. "My Dad has been telling me about the great Real Madrid teams of the 1960s," he said at the presentation ceremony in the famous Santiago Bernabeu stadium. "Gento was the quickest No 11 he had ever seen. Today I'm so proud to be wearing his No 11 shirt."
Despite scoring plenty of goals for the Spanish giants, Owen struggled to find a regular place on the team. And by August 2005 Michael made a return to the English Premiere League alongside friend Alan Shearer at Newcastle Utd. "I need to be playing regularly in World Cup year," confessed the diminutive star. "But I have really enjoyed being part of the Real Madrid team."
Success hasn't gone to Michael's head, however. At heart he is a family man he 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.
And the player has stayed loyal to his first love, Louise Bonsall. The two met at infant school in Deeside, and now live in a £1.6 million Tudor country estate and Manor House near the village of Northop, five miles from Michael's childhood home. 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.