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  Tuesday, 16 April, 2002, 11:05 GMT 12:05 UK
Owen named England captain
Sven-Goran Eriksson with his new captain Michael Owen
Owen will be the youngest captain since Bobby Moore
Agree or disagree with Sven? E-mail us here

Michael Owen has admitted his appointment as England captain for the friendly with Paraguay came as a "complete surprise".

The Liverpool striker got the nod from coach Sven-Goran Eriksson to deputise for the injured David Beckham in England's last friendly on home soil before the World Cup.

Owen will lead out his country at his home ground, Anfield, on Wednesday.


I'm not expecting to be captain during the World Cup
Michael Owen

He said: "When the manager told me it was a complete surprise, but a pleasant one.

"I was straight on the phone to my mother and father, it was a very proud moment for my family."

Owen becomes the second youngest England captain after Bobby Moore, who led his nation at a slightly younger 22.

But he is under no illusions that he may not wear the armband for long.

Eriksson stressed that Beckham remains his number one choice and Owen is also aware that the likes of Rio Ferdinand and Sol Campbell - both ruled out of the Paraguay friendly - will have stronger claims.

"Everyone knows David is captain," said the Liverpool striker.

  Michael Owen
1979: Born 14 Dec in Chester
1995: Breaks England U15 scoring record
1996: Leads Liverpool to FA Youth Cup, signs pro terms on 17th birthday
1997: Scores on first-team debut
1998: Becomes youngest England cap in 20th century, scores stunning goal v Argentina
2001: Scores hat-trick in 5-1 win v Germany, named Euro Footballer of the Year.
2002: Named stand-in England captain

"We also have Rio Ferdinand and Sol Campbell in the squad and they're big candidates.

"I'm not expecting to be captain during the World Cup.

"I would jump at the chance but there are plenty of other names up to the job."

Owen admitted he has harboured ambition to captain his country, adding: "I thought it might happen later in my career.

"To get it now is sooner than I imagined.

"It completes it being at Anfield in front of my home fans.

"To be captain there is a great honour."

Eriksson is still pinning his hopes on Beckham recovering from a broken foot in time for the finals in Korea and Japan.

The England coach said: "Michael Owen will be captain for this game and then we'll see when David Beckham is back.


It's up to him to show that he's also a leader and I think he is
Sven-Goran Eriksson

"Hopefully it will be for one game, because that means that Beckham is back.

"If Beckham is not back for the World Cup, which could happen, then I will think about it and see what we're going to do, if it's Michael or someone else in the squad."

Eriksson added: "Michael was the best footballer in Europe last year and I think he's a very clean and popular one inside and outside England.

"It's up to him to show that he's also a leader and I think he is."

Owen's Liverpool team-mate Steven Gerrard said: "He's very happy, he's back at Anfield with the armband.

"He's had a bit of a hard time lately but he scored on Saturday and he's been made England captain which will give him a great boost for our last few games."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
England striker Michael Owen
"It's a great honour"
England coach Sven-Goran Eriksson
"It's up to Michael Owen to show he is a leader"
England midfielder Steven Gerrard
"I think it's a good decision"
 VOTE RESULTS
Is Michael Owen the right choice as captain?

Yes
 54.95% 

No
 45.05% 

16181 Votes Cast

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion


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