Michael Owen to retire at the end of the season
Former England international Michael Owen has announced he will retire at the end of the season.
The striker will play out the current season with Stoke City, who he joined last summer, before hanging up his boots.
Announcing the decision on his website, Owen said "it is the right time to bring the curtain down on my career."
The 33-year-old enjoyed an incredibly successful career, coming through the ranks at Liverpool before going on to play for Real Madrid, Newcastle and Manchester United before his current club.
However the player that brought the sparkle to the 1998 World Cup with his dazzling goal against Argentina, struggled with injuries and some will argue he failed to reach his full potential.
Despite that, he is the last Englishman to win the coveted Ballon d'Or, which he collected in 2001, while he sits fourth in the list of all time England goalscorers, netting 40 during his 89 appearances for the national team.
Michael Owen's statement in full...
"It is with an immense amount of pride that I am announcing my intention to retire from Professional Football at the end of this season.
"Having progressed through the ranks at Liverpool to make my first team debut at 17, before embarking upon spells at Real Madrid, Newcastle United, Manchester United and Stoke City, not to mention representing my country on 89 occasions, I now feel it is the right time to bring the curtain down on my career.
"I have been very fortunate in that my career has taken me on a journey that like many young players starting out, I could only have dreamt of.
"None of this would have been possible without the tremendous support I have received from managers, coaches, fellow players, back room staff, the supporters and my own personal sponsors. I would like to thank each and every one for the huge role they have played in helping me reach the top of my profession.
"Most of all though, I would like to thank my family. To my beautiful wife Louise, for her continued love and support through the many ups and downs in my career and for affording me the most precious gift of all, our children.
"To my Mum who has always taken the brunt of my frustrations yet continues to keep our family so tight-knit, a trait that has formed the foundations of my own success. Her dedication to me and my brothers and sisters is immeasurable. I'd like to thank Terry, Andy, Karen and Lesley for being so understanding and creating the perfect environment to grow up in. Last but not least, my Dad. We did it my old mate! From those freezing local parks to terrorising the best defenders in the World on the biggest stages of all. I couldn't have done it without you."
Belfast Telegraph Digital