Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Milestone Shear Bliss for Owen

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Milestone Shear Bliss for Owen

Article excerpt

England striker Michael Owen will pick up no prize if he collects his 30th international goal at St James' Park tomorrow.

Should he find the back of the net ( and Azerbaijan boss Carlos Alberto's reckons England might get 10 ( he will receive nothing but the warm glow of going level in his country's all-time scoring list with Tom Finney, Nat Lofthouse and Alan Shearer.

It is more than 50 years since Finney and Lofthouse were terrorising international defences, and while their names have passed into English footballing folklore, it is with Shearer that the 25-year-old will be most closely compared.

The pair formed a devastating partnership for their country, the power, experience and lethal finishing of one complementing perfectly the electric pace and youthful fearlessness of the other as defences around the world were put to the sword, and Owen has since taken over the mantle of his mentor.

It will give Owen great pleasure to match Shearer's achievement. The 34-year-old Newcastle striker retired from international duty having scored his 30 goals in 63 appearance, two of them as a substitute; Owen's 29th arrived in his 69th, 10 of them from the bench, both immensely creditable returns.

However, perhaps of greater significance is the fact that Owen has hit the mark with so much of his career still ahead of him.

Shearer's 30th goal came in his last game for his country, a penalty in a 3-2 Euro 2000 defeat by Romania in Charleroi, a game in which Owen also scored.

At 25, the Real Madrid hitman could have seven or eight years ahead of him at the highest level, and that means he has a genuine chance of becoming his country's leading goalscorer of all time.

Only Jimmy Greaves on 44, Gary Lineker on 48 and Sir Bobby Charlton on 49 ( Lineker missed a penalty which would have given him a share of the record as his international career drew to a close ( lie ahead of the 30 club, and provided he maintains his fitness and his desire, there is no reason to question his ability to get there.

Owen has been destined for great things ever since breaking into the Liverpool side as a precocious 17-year-old.

His devastating pace and eye for goal made it inevitable he would win a place in the senior England squad, and despite getting himself sent off for the under-21s he won his seat on the plane to the 1998 World Cup in France. …

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