Former England striker Michael Owen is to retire from football at the end of the season.
Owen, 33, who scored 40 goals in 89 internationals, played for Liverpool, Real Madrid, Newcastle United and Manchester United and is now at Stoke.
He said: “It is with an immense amount of pride that I am announcing my intention to retire.
“I have been very fortunate in that my career has taken me on a journey I could only have dreamed of.”
Owen burst on to the scene as a teenager at Liverpool and made England’s 1998 World Cup squad aged just 18. He announced himself on the world stage with a memorable solo goal against Argentina in that tournament and scored a hat-trick as England beat Germany 5-1 in Munich in September 2001.
He has scored 220 goals in his club career, winning the Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup (three times) and Uefa Cup. Owen was named European Footballer of the Year in 2001 – the first Englishman to do since Kevin Keegan in 1979.
Owen joined Stoke City at the start of the season and has scored one goal in seven appearances.
“Having progressed through the ranks at Liverpool to make my first-team debut at 17, before embarking upon spells at Real Madrid, Newcastle United, Manchester United and Stoke City, not to mention representing my country on 89 occasions, I now feel it is the right time to bring the curtain down on my career,” Owen wrote in a statement on his website.
“None of this would have been possible without the tremendous support I have received from managers, coaches, fellow players, backroom staff, the supporters and my own personal sponsors. I would like to thank each and every one for the huge role they have played in helping me reach the top of my profession.
“Most of all, though, I would like to thank my family. To my beautiful wife Louise, for her continued love and support through the many ups and downs in my career and for affording me the most precious gift of all, our children.
“To my mum who has always taken the brunt of my frustrations yet continues to keep our family so tight-knit, a trait that has formed the foundations of my own success. Her dedication to me and my brothers and sisters is immeasurable.
“Last but not least, my dad. We did it my old mate! From those freezing local parks to terrorising the best defenders in the world on the biggest stages of all. I couldn’t have done it without you.”
Chester-born Owen helped Liverpool to a treble of trophies in 2001 as they won the League Cup, FA Cup and Uefa Cup to end a six-year trophy drought. In that FA Cup win, he memorably scored two late goals to help Liverpool come from behind to beat Arsenal 2-1.
In total, Owen scored 158 goals in 297 appearances for the Anfield club before moving to Real Madrid for £8m in 2004, where he was part of the “Galacticos”, including Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo, Roberto Carlos and Raul.
Despite 14 goals in 40 games, he returned to the Premier League with Newcastle United for a reported £16m in August 2005.
However, after eight consecutive seasons of hitting double figures in goals, he would only reach that mark again twice in the next eight years.
Injuries took their toll. Owen suffered a broken metatarsal in December 2005. Despite returning to fitness in time for the 2006 World Cup, he damaged the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee in the first minute of the group match against Sweden, and was out of action for almost a year.
Owen played less than 10 more times for his country after that tournament, with his last appearance for England coming against France in 2008.
After four injury-blighted years at St James’ Park, in which he still managed to score 30 goals in 79 appearances, the club were relegated from the Premier League. He later signed for Manchester United on a free transfer in 2009.
Owen initially impressed at Old Trafford, scoring the injury-time winner in the dramatic 4-3 derby victory over Manchester City with the match since being voted the best in Premier League history.
He signed an extension to his original contract after winning the Premier League title in 2010-11 while Owen was an unused substitute in United’s Champions League final defeat by Barcelona that year.
But his injury problems resurfaced, limiting his first-team chances and leading to his release from the club and subsequent move to Stoke.