Stoke striker Owen: I was never fully fit from 19 years of age

Retiring Stoke City striker Michael Owen says he's been playing injured since he was 19. Owen has announced he plans to retire at the end of the season.

Retiring Stoke City striker Michael Owen says he's been playing injured since he was 19.

Owen has announced he plans to retire at the end of the season.

The ex-England striker, 33, who retires in June, said: “My hamstring gave way in a game at Leeds at the age of 19 and, from that moment on, my playing career was compromised.

“I actually take great pride in the fact that, even when not fully fit, I still competed at the very highest level playing for some of the world’s biggest clubs.”

Owen, European player of the year in 2001, scored 40 goals in 89 England caps and played for Liverpool, Real Madrid, Newcastle and Manchester United before joining Stoke last year.

He wrote in his online blog: “I have two over-riding emotions.

“The first is a sense of pride at not only what I achieved, but how I achieved it.

“The second emotion is a sense of ‘what might have been’ had injuries not robbed me of my most lethal weapon — speed.

“Many of my highlights were early on in my career and I can only wonder what more I would have achieved had my body been able to withstand the demands I made of it. I was almost too quick.

“I had signed for Stoke with every intention of playing more football than I had in recent seasons.

“For whatever reason, it hasn’t transpired.”

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