BBC Sport
 You are in: Football  
Sport Front Page
FA Cup
Eng Prem
Champions League
Uefa Cup
Eng Div 1
Eng Div 2
Eng Div 3
Eng Conf
Scot Prem
Scottish Cup
Scot Div 1
Scot Div 2
Scot Div 3
League of Wales
Rugby Union
Rugby League
Other Sports
Special Events
Sports Talk
BBC Pundits
TV & Radio
Question of Sport
Photo Galleries
Funny Old Game
Around The UK: 
N Ireland

BBC Sport Academy
BBC News
BBC Weather

Sunday, 2 September, 2001, 00:29 GMT 01:29 UK
Owen the destroyer
Michael Owen
Michael Owen made his name all over again in Munich
From BBC Sport Online chief football writer Phil McNulty in Munich.

Michael Owen's rehabilitation as a striker of true world stature was confirmed in a brief moment that left Munich's sprawling Olympic Stadium in shock.

It was not an Owen goal in the hat-trick that inspired England's incredible 5-1 triumph - it was an incident that reduced one of world football's supposed iron men to rubble.

Germany goalkeeper Oliver Kahn was overwhelming favourite to reach a simple first-half back-pass when he saw the ominous figure of Owen in pursuit.

Kahn, widely accepted as the world's finest goalkeeper and a sporting icon for Germany and Bayern Munich, was reduced to an undignified state of blind panic.

Michael Owen
Owen won the battle with Oliver Kahn
He inexplicably picked the ball up, an amateurish error that gave England a free kick inside the area.

It was more than a simple mistake.

It was an expression of naked fear, a realisation that Owen was a scourge to Germany, even without the ball at his feet.

And the nightmare was complete for Kahn when Owen, who had already scored, beat him twice more in the second half to complete his treble.

Owen is a world star once more.

And England have a player to threaten even the most impregnable defence.

Owen's third goal in particular was taken with a mixture of ruthless efficiency and nonchalance that told the football world that the one-time wonder boy has officially come of age.

Sir Geoff Hurst's World Cup final hat-trick will never be forgotten as long as football is played, but it is a refreshing change to focus on another England Number Ten with a hat-trick to his name against Germany.

And it was the crowning glory for a modest but single-minded individual who has shown the strength to come through an injury nightmare that could have broken lesser men.

Michael Owen
Liverpool are keen to secure their star striker
Owen coped with the pressures of his goal against Argentina in France 98 - it was simply his hamstrings that let him down.

He tore his hamstring badly at Elland Road two years ago, and was haunted by the injury as Liverpool and Owen searched desperately for a cure.

Owen was sent to doctors around the globe - and even advised to sit differently in his car to avoid trouble with an injury that is perhaps the most feared for those blessed with lightning pace.

He battled mental and physical anguish, but finally emerged into the light late last season with a flurry of goals that included a match winning double in the FA Cup final against Arsenal.

This season he has looked untouchable from the moment he graced Cardiff with another goal in the Charity Shield against Manchester United and struck a double against West Ham on the Premiership's opening day.

And it is all a fitting reward for a player who always vowed, not in a vindictive way, to make his critics eat generous portions of humble pie for writing him off last season.

Owen is, in many ways, the natural successor to Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer as a world class striker in England's colours, both as a player and a person.

Michael Owen
Owen left his mark in Munich
He is close to his family, buying them houses in the same street so they can stay together, and his private life is settled and kept out of the headlines.

Owen enjoys horse racing and keeps a keen sense of humour behind his boyish appearance, but he has a sense of professionalism and a hunger for success that does not allow for distractions.

Liverpool may view his show-stopping performance against Germany with mixed emotions.

They are currently in the process of agreeing a new five-year contract with Owen, and negotiations are at an advanced stage.

But Liverpool will know the predators will be at Anfield's door once news of Owen's hat-trick flashes around the world.

Real Madrid have already expressed their admiration, and they appear to work in financial boundaries that are unique to The Bernabeu, leaving them in pole position should Liverpool ever find themselves having to deal with the unthinkable.

Liverpool are confident Owen will be happy to spend the best years of his career at Anfield - but Gerard Houllier will sleep a lot easier when his signature is on the new deal.

Michael Owen is back.

And if anyone needs confirmation, they can consult the shell-shocked and shattered figure of Oliver Kahn.

Is England's 5-1 victory over Germany their finest victory ever? Munich magic
Was this England's finest ever win?
[an error occurred while processing this directive]
Links to more Football stories are at the foot of the page.

E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Football stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

Sport Front Page | Football | Cricket | Rugby Union | Rugby League |
Tennis | Golf | Motorsport | Boxing | Athletics | Other Sports |
Special Events | Sports Talk | BBC Pundits | TV & Radio | Question of Sport |
Photo Galleries | Funny Old Game | N Ireland | Scotland | Wales