Football: Havelange joining the Owen fan club

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The Independent Online
THE WORLDWIDE fame which teenage England striker Michael Owen earned with his dazzling performances at the World Cup knows no bounds.

Feted by Pele and a host of other football legends after his goal against Argentina, he can now count Dr Joao Havelange, the former president of football's world governing body, Fifa, as a member of his fan club.

Havelange has made an off-icial request to the Football Association for one of Owen's replica England shirts. Fifa's director of communications, Keith Cooper, outlined the "request of a rather unusual nature" in a recent letter to the FA. He wrote: "Dr Havelange was so captivated by Michael Owen's performances at the World Cup that he has asked me to secure for him a number 20 England shirt with Owen's name.

"I must say it's the first time the Fifa President has ever made such a request, which must say a lot about Michael Owen's ability and personality."

The FA have duly arranged for the Liverpool striker to sign a replica England shirt for Dr Havelange. An FA spokesman, Steve Double, said: "We're delighted to oblige. It's a great honour for Michael Owen. What is more, it's also a Brazilian asking for an Englishman's shirt!"