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  Monday, 10 December, 2001, 10:08 GMT
Hot-shot Owen yet to peak
Michael Owen celebrates his hat-trick against Germany
Owen scored a hat-trick in England's 5-1 win over Germany
It is hard to believe that Michael Owen still qualifies for the England Under-21s after his staggering achievements on the football field.

Owen does not turn 22 until next week, well after picking up third place in this year's Sports Personality of the Year Awards.

But he is already assured a place in the sporting hall of fame after his hat-trick helped England beat Germany 5-1 in September.

After bursting onto the international stage with a wonderful goal against Argentina in the 1998 World Cup, he had to battle through two years of injury problems that threatened to derail his career.

Huge success

However, intensive treatment on his still-maturing body has ironed out many of the hamstring problems that were affecting him, and this year he has been back to his lethal goal-scoring best.

Towards the end of last season the goals began to flow once again, and a clinical double in the FA Cup final showed that the Liverpool wonder kid was firmly back on the scene.

He enjoyed huge success with Liverpool as they collected a cup treble, and began this season as he ended the last, with goals flying in from all angles.

Spearhead

By midway through November he had already scored 18 goals, including the stunning hat-trick in Germany that saw England leap their rivals at the top of their World Cup qualifying group.

He added another goal in the 2-0 win over Albania, and at an age when many players are just starting their international careers he is already ranked as one of the best strikers in the world.

In all competitions for Liverpool he has already scored 101 goals, and in 32 England appearances he has found the net 14 times.

Owen will spearhead England's strikeforce at next year's World Cup, and every defender in the world will be hoping that they do not have to mark him.


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