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Monday, 17 December, 2001, 16:59 GMT
Owen's crowning glory
BBC Sport Online profiles European Footballer of the Year Michael Owen.

Michael Owen is the first English winner of the European Footballer of the Year award since Kevin Keegan was given the honour for the second consecutive year in 1979.

That Liverpool and England striker Owen has ended a 22-year drought is testimony to his form for both club and country.

Winning the award is final proof if any were needed that Owen is a striker of true world class.

He may stand a modest 5ft 9ins but he strikes fear into defences around the world with his potent combination of sheer pace and ruthless efficiency in front of goal.

Owen's hat-trick against Germany in the decisive World Cup qualifier on 1 September confirmed to the world that the one-time wonder boy has officially come of age.

The striker's demolition of the German defence in Munich was the crowning glory for a modest but single-minded individual who has shown the strength to come through an injury nightmare.

Michael Owen
Owen has signed a new deal with Liverpool
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.

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.

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.

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

Michael Owen
Owen scored a hat-trick against Germany 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.

He has recently signed a new long-term deal with Liverpool and is spearheading their bid to win the Premiership for the first time.

And he is widely expected to be one of the stars of next year's World Cup.

For a man who turned 22 just three days ago Owen has achieved much in a short space of time.

Winning the European Footballer of the Year crowns a fantastic year for Owen - but it is the promise of so much more that excites the most.


Europe's Top Player

Fifa's Player of Year

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 VOTE RESULTS
Who is the best player?

Michael Owen
 41.82% 

Luis Figo
 34.52% 

David Beckham
 23.66% 

10878 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion
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