Manchester: Michael Owen announced his
arrival on the world stage with a memorable solo strike at the
1998 World Cup.
Now the Manchester United striker is hoping that "the one
big goal" he may yet conjure up this season will arrive
against Barcelona at Wembley.
Thirteen years have passed since the 18-year-old Owen
carved his way through Argentina's defence before finishing
with a composure that belied his age.
The passage of time and a cruel injury record have long
since stripped Owen of the electrifying speed which once
terrorised Argentina, but the 31-year-old showed his
finisher's instincts remained sharp when he came on to score
United's fourth in the 4-2 win over Blackpool at the weekend.
While Owen will not start against Barcelona, the former
Liverpool and England striker is hopeful that he could have a
role to play if called upon.
Owen remains realistic about the possibility of
book-ending his wonder-goal in St-Etienne with another
similarly important strike on Saturday.
"I'd love it to be. But I've got to get on the bench
first before I can get on the pitch," Owen told reporters at
United's training complex.
"It's such a good squad here so we'll see. But if I was
on the bench and I was brought on that would obviously be what
I want to do."
Since being sold by Liverpool to Real Madrid in 2004,
Owen's career has been savaged by a series of debilitating
injuries, most notably the anterior cruciate ligament rupture
sustained during the 2006 World Cup.
That injury left him sidelined for nearly a year, and was
the main contributing factor to an unhappy four-year spell at
Newcastle United where he was restricted to only 71
When Owen's management company circulated a glossy
promotional brochure extolling the striker's many virtues in
the summer of 2009, it served only to highlight just how far
the striker's stock had fallen.
Owen was reported to have favoured a return to his former
club Liverpool, but with then manager Rafael Benitez
harbouring doubts about the striker's form and fitness, United
manager Sir Alex Ferguson moved quickly.
Although Owen has remained largely a bit-part player
since arriving at Old Trafford, firmly down the pecking order
behind Javier Hernandez and Dimitar Berbatov, he remains
philosophical about his role in the squad.
On Sunday Owen picked up the first Premier League
winners' medal of his career, and he is ever hopeful that he
may yet add a Champions League winners medal to his trophy
And Owen has a typically direct response to suggestions
that he may be frustrated by the limited playing opportunities
on offer at United.
"If I was at a smaller club I'd never be in any big games
would I?" he said. "At least being at a big club I've got a
chance of being in them. So there's two sides to every coin."
First Published: Wednesday, May 25, 2011, 10:15