Football: Owen makes another crisp pounds 500,000

Even on a day off, the nation's favourite teenager can add noughts to his bank balance by smiling and saying `cheese'.

OSTENSIBLY, IT was Michael Owen's day off, a day he might once have spent knocking around anonymously with his mates in the Welsh village where he lives or venturing into nearby Chester to stock up his wardrobe. The nation's favourite 18-year-old is discovering fast, however, that acquiring the status of international celebrity means putting more and more of your life in someone else's hands.

Thus Owen spent yesterday's precious allocation of resting time eating crisps and posing with a waxwork dummy of Gary Lineker, transported from Madame Tussauds because Lineker himself could not make it. It was all part of the deal his management company has struck with Walker's which will, it is said, add another pounds 500,000 to the bank balance of an already wealthy young man.

Owen, charming, fresh and boy-next-door wholesome, is an advertising man's dream. And since this summer's World Cup finals he has become a commercial phenomenon. In three months he has been approached with more than 400 endorsement proposals and it was little wonder that the President of Walker's, sitting alongside him as the arrangement was unveiled at the National Sports Centre at Lilleshall, looked pleased. Along with Umbro and Tissot watches, the Walker's offer is one of only three he has taken up.

"Michael's appeal is much the same as Gary's," Martin Glenn said. "He is not just a great footballer but a personality with an appeal to all ages. And, like Gary, he looks the kind of person who would eat crisps."

Owen said that he was delighted to be associated with Walker's and recalled that Gary Lineker was his boyhood idol, even though he played for Everton. And he tried not to look embarrassed when the President announced that cheese and onion flavour was to be renamed "Cheese `n' Owen".

Then, ensuring that the day was not merely a money making exercise, he went off to lend his support to the England Under-15 squad, who were training for tonight's match in Wrexham. The Walker's people, meanwhile, talked about their sponsorship of the Football Association's Charter for Quality.

All of this was crammed into a couple of hours, in accordance with the wishes of his club and his family that he does not suffer from over-exposure. "It is essential that he is allowed, first and foremost, to concentrate on his football," his manager, Birmingham-based Tony Stephens, said.

"It's the kind of thing you expect to have to do," Owen said. "And, in any case, it will not involve too many days so I will not be distracted from playing football.

"My life has changed since the World Cup. I can't go out without being recognised but, when I was a boy supporting Everton, I'd point to players in the street so I'm not complaining. I knew if I was successful I would have to live with the attention and I'm enjoying it."

Life has changed on the field, too, after the extraordinary success of his first full season in a Liverpool shirt, in which he scored 23 goals, followed by France 98 and the sensational strike against Argentina that set the world talking, all vestiges of anonymity have been torn away.

"It is definitely harder," he said. "Last season I was still a bit of an unknown quantity but defenders are starting to think they can get my measure now and I'm having to work out other ways of getting the better of them. After you have had a successful first season it is on how you do in the following six months that you are really judged. I'm fortunate in that I've made a fairly good start to this season. If I'd gone six or seven games without scoring then people might have started to ask questions but I've got five goals and my performances have been good. Hopefully, things will continue that way."

Back at Anfield, Owen still amazes even those closest to him. His appetite for playing remains as sharp as ever, despite the demands upon his physical and mental resilience made by going from a competitive domestic season into a World Cup and back again without any real opportunity for recharging batteries.

"They have told me that if I feel I need a rest I should say so but I can honestly say I don't feel jaded at all," he said. The return to fitness of Robbie Fowler might have something to do with that, although Owen insists he is untroubled by the competition between himself, Fowler and Karl-Heinz Riedle for two forward places.

He even says he would accept being left out by rotation, if that was what Roy Evans and Gerhard Houllier wished.

Somehow, in his case, one suspects his omission from the Liverpool side is about as likely as Walker's deciding they have picked the wrong man.

peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
New Articles
i100... with this review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Holly's review of Peterborough's Pizza Express quickly went viral on social media
footballTim Sherwood: This might be th match to wake up Manchester City
Arts and Entertainment
musicHow female vocalists are now writing their own hits
New Articles
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Blahnik says: 'I think I understand the English more than they do themselves'
Arts and Entertainment
Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Crawley in Downton Abbey
TVInside Downton Abbey series 5
Life and Style
The term 'normcore' was given the oxygen of publicity by New York magazine during the autumn/winter shows in Paris in February
fashionWhen is a trend a non-trend? When it's Normcore, since you ask
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam