The mantra of Michael Owen: 'Goalscoring - I eat, sleep and drink it'

Little striker reborn and primed for the big challenge

St James' had seen nothing quite like it, nothing as farcical, since... well, until three days later, when Lee Bowyer and Kieron Dyer started knocking seven bells out of one another out on the pitch. Carlos, it transpired, had got somewhat ahead of himself - somewhat more advanced than he was when he outflanked the Italian defence to score the signature goal of Brazil's 1970 World Cup final tour de force. He had been under the impression that Owen had proclaimed he would eclipse Malcolm Macdonald's record-breaking five-goal haul for England against Cyprus in 1975 - a very mistaken impression.

Anyone who knows even the public persona of Michael Owen, the painstakingly self-effacing public persona of Michael Owen, knows he would be more likely to request a trial with the towering Harlem Globetrotters than to indulge in what might be termed as bigging himself up. As England prepare for their two dates with World Cup qualification destiny at Old Trafford, against Austria next Saturday afternoon and Poland the following Wednesday night, it is strictly for others to suggest that Owen might be starting to live up to his rather sizeable reputation once again.

In truth, his standing as one of the globe's great, natural goalscorers has never greatly diminished. Although he spent most of last season warming the bench at the Bernabeu, Owen proved himself to be the David Fairclough of the Primera Liga, plundering an unequalled goals-per-minute ratio as a supersub in Spain. He was also on the mark for England at Old Trafford in March, in the summary 4-0 dismissal of Northern Ireland, and scored a hat-trick against Colombia in May.

Still, it has been reassuring for all England followers to see Owen back in prime poaching form in the Premiership; although a "dead leg" kept him off the pitch against Ports-mouth yesterday, it is not regarded as serious. The flashing header against Blackburn and the toe-poke against Manchester City were both first-time finishes born of supreme instinct, timing and execution. His debut for Newcastle might have been as frustrating as the night he spent in less-than-splendid striking isolation for England at Windsor Park last month, but the £17 million man has swiftly got himself back in the groove again on home soil.

"Confidence is a good thing as a striker," Owen reflected. "Everyone knows me by now. I am 25. I have played in the Premiership for 90 per cent of my career and everyone knows that I will score goals, given the chance. Some will say I don't contribute in certain other areas and that is a fair comment, because I am not the size of [the 6ft] Alan Shearer and people like that. My game is all about scoring goals. If someone gives me a chance, I normally stick it away."

For England, Owen has stuck away 32 chances in 72 internationals. His goals haul for England is greater than that of his new Newcastle team-mate; Shearer scored 30. Only Bobby Charlton (49), Gary Lineker (48) and Jimmy Greaves (44) have scored more. With the prospect of at least five more years in the international firing line, the chances are that Owen will end up in the record books. In fact, with 21 goals in competitive matches for England, he is only one behind Lineker's national mark in that department.

At 25, Owen is still young, and his appetite for goals remains undiminished. "There is no better feeling than when the ball hits the back of the net," he said. "It is what I go to bed thinking about and what I wake up thinking about. I think about it when I'm eating and drinking. It's what my life is about: scoring goals. I eat, sleep and drink it."

Owen came back to the Premiership specifically to keep himself in the World Cup picture, and his hunger and desire can only help the national side in their quest to reach the finals in Germany next summer. "We have to win our [next] two games and that's probably a good thing," England's "midget" gem pondered. "We know what we have to do. There could be a second bite of the cherry, in the play-offs, but we expect to win the group we're in. I'm confident that we can."

New Articles
tvDownton Abbey Christmas special
Arts and Entertainment
Wolf (Nathan McMullen), Ian (Dan Starky), The Doctor (Peter Capaldi), Clara (Jenna Coleman), Santa Claus (Nick Frost) in the Doctor Who Christmas Special (BBC/Photographer: David Venni)
tvOur review of the Doctor Who Christmas Special
News
peopleIt seems you can't silence Katie Hopkins, even on Christmas Day...
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: Stanley Tucci, Sophie Grabol and Christopher Eccleston in ‘Fortitude’
tvSo Sky Atlantic arrived in Iceland to film their new and supposedly snow-bound series 'Fortitude'...
Arts and Entertainment
Jenna Coleman as Clara Oswald in the Doctor Who Christmas special
tvForget the rumours that Clara Oswald would be quitting the Tardis
Arts and Entertainment
Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi showing a small mascot shaped like a vagina
art
News
The Queen delivers her Christmas message
newsTwitter reacts to Her Majesty's Christmas Message
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Life and Style
fashion
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all