Will Michael Owen Make it to the World Cup?

With England’s place in the World Cup booked, the burning question on many England fans minds is if Michael Owen will be on the plane to South Africa.

Michael Owen was once one of the most feared strikers in world football, with Pele quoted saying that Owen was his favorite footballer. But his reputation in recent years has taken a beating.

Owen came into prominence as a young striker in Liverpool where he quickly became their star player, scoring at will and ending the 97-98 season as the joint top scorer of the English Premier League. But it was in the 1998 World Cup that he burst onto the international stage with a wonder goal against Argentina. Voted by many as the best goal of the tournament, Owen outran the Argentines, beating seasoned defenders such as Roberto Ayala and Jose Chamot before scoring from just outside the penalty box.

Frustrated with Liverpool’s lack of results, it wasn’t long before Owen was on his way to join the star studded lineup of Spanish giants Real Madrid. Although he found it difficult to secure a first team place there, he performed admirably whenever he played and even had the highest goals to minutes played ratio in 2004. However it was his subsequent move to Newcastle United that started the rot.

Owen was convinced to move to Newcastle by England strike partner Alan Shearer but with injuries and loss of form and the subsequent relegation of Newcastle, many football fans had written off Owen’s prospects of an England place. The future was looking bleak, until Sir Alex Ferguson made him the surprise signing of 2009, even handing him the legendary number 7 shirt at Manchester United. With Owen scoring the miracle last minute winner against Manchester City, would it be long before we see him in an England lineup again?

The chances look slim, with England progressing comfortably to the World Cup and manager Fabio Capello refusing to select him in favor of other strikers such as Wayne Rooney, Jermaine Defoe, Emile Heskey, Peter Crouch and even Carlton Cole. But of the 5 strikers, Rooney seems to be the only automatic choice and the season is long. Who knows, if Owen ends the season in top form the other strikers sustain injuries or loss of form, he might find himself on the plane to South Africa.

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