Page last updated at 10:56 GMT, Wednesday, 3 June 2009 11:56 UK

Owen in career claim damages win

Michael owen
The Newcastle United striker was not in court to hear the apology

Newcastle and England football star Michael Owen has accepted a public apology and undisclosed damages over claims his football career was over.

The 29-year-old striker was not at London's High Court for the settlement of his libel action over a story in the Daily Express last month.

It followed claims he was verging on retirement because Premier League clubs no longer wanted to sign him.

Express Newspapers accepted that the allegations were false.

Owen's solicitor, John Kelly, told Mr Justice Eady that the newspaper falsely alleged Premier League clubs did not want to sign him and, as a result of a lack of interest, he was on the verge of retiring from professional football at the end of the season.

Mr Kelly said: "These incredulous allegations are entirely without foundation and were obviously extremely distressing, hurtful and damaging to the claimant."

Important game

Ian Helme, counsel for Express Newspapers, which has agreed to pay damages and Owen's legal costs, accepted that the allegations were unfounded and apologised for the distress, embarrassment and offence caused.

Mr Kelly said the back page article, entitled "Unwanted Toon striker at a cross roads, Finished at 29?", was accompanied by another headed "Owen ready for sad finale".

He said the player's distress was aggravated by the fact the article was published on the eve of an important game in which his club was fighting to avoid relegation.

He said the allegations were not put to Owen or his representatives before publication, or they would have been advised of their utter falsity.

After being contacted by the player's legal team, the article was replaced with one entitled "Owen: I'm not finished".

After the hearing, a spokesman for Owen said: "Michael is delighted to have won his case and to have set the record straight."

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