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Last Updated: Wednesday, 1 June, 2005, 00:39 GMT 01:39 UK
Eriksson hails 'brilliant' Owen
England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson hailed Michael Owen as "one of the best finishers in the world" after his hat-trick against Colombia.

The Real Madrid striker, who now has 32 goals in 70 games, moved to fourth in England's all-time list of scorers.

Eriksson said: "He scored three fantastic goals but that is nothing new. He has been doing it for years. He is a brilliant finisher.

"I would imagine it would be hard to find a better finisher in the world."

A delighted Owen, who is now only 17 goals behind Sir Bobby Charlton's record of 49, insisted the mini-tour of America was a success after the 3-2 victory against Colombia.

I have got 32 goals now but the Bobby Charlton record is still a long way off
Michael Owen
"We've made friends and won two games, so it's job done for us.

"You can't compare this hat-trick to the one I got in Germany because that was a World Cup qualifier and a special night for the whole country.

"But you never turn your nose up at any goals for England and I'm delighted.

"I have got 32 goals now but the Bobby Charlton record is still a long way off. If I fail to make it, it won't be for want of trying."

The 25-year-old added: "We've had two good performances, but now the World Cup qualifiers are the main things for us."

Eriksson was also delighted with the outcome of a tour which was much criticised after many first-choice players pulled out.

He said: "It has been a fantastic exercise for us. People have come in and taken their chance, like Kieran Richardson and Michael Carrick.

"And tonight I thought the two centre-backs Zat Knight and Glen Johnson both did very well against good opposition.

This is great for Michael - he has proved what a superb goal-scorer he is
David Beckham
"Colombia are dangerous. They keep the ball for long periods and if you don't have a good shape they will take advantage of you but I thought we coped quite well."

England skipper David Beckham was also full of praise for his Real Madrid team-mate.

"This is great for Michael. It has been a tough season for him," said Beckham. "He has not played every game for Real Madrid but he has kept going.

"Almost every time Michael has come on the pitch as a substitute he has scored and again today he has proved what a superb goal-scorer he is. It can't get much better for him than today."

Owen later insisted that he wants to stay in Spain, despite renewed speculation linking him with a return to the Premiership.

He said: "I have said many times I'm happy in Spain. I've wormed my way into the Real Madrid side, as I said I would do, and I don't think there are many players at the Bernabeu who have played as many games as I have.

"England's my home, and maybe I will come back one day, but I have got a contract for three more years and unless I get told otherwise I will be reporting for training with Real on 8 July."

Interview: England striker Michael Owen

Interview: England captain David Beckham


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