Michael Owen Named European Footballer of the Year on This Day in 2001

This year, Michael Owen was named European Footballer of the Year, marking a historic win for the Liverpool striker, who became the first Englishman to receive the Ballon d’Or award since Kevin Keegan in 1979. Since its inception in 1956, Owen has joined a list of five other British winners, including Stanley Matthews, Denis Law, Bobby Charlton, and George Best. With 176 votes, he exceeded Real Madrid and Spain star Raul (140) and Bayern Munich and Germany goalkeeper Oliver Khan (114) in the top three after a poll of journalists conducted by France Football magazine.

In 2001, Owen was a key player in Liverpool’s success, helping the team win the FA Cup, League Cup, UEFA Cup, and Super Cup. Notably, Owen scored twice in the 2-1 FA Cup final win over Arsenal and netted a hat-trick in England’s 5-1 win over Germany in Munich in September. At the time of his Ballon d’Or win, his record for club and country in 2001 was 36 goals in 54 appearances, showcasing his exceptional talent on the field.

Upon receiving the prestigious award, the 22-year-old shared his excitement, stating, “We have had a great year at Liverpool in winning five trophies (including the Charity Shield) and I’m very happy to have won this award as well. Some fantastic names past and hopefully in the future are going to win this award. I am very happy and delighted to join that list. It’s the highest privilege I can win as a player and I am over the moon to win it. I would like to thank the team and all the staff, everyone who is involved with Liverpool. It’s their award too.”

In the FIFA World Player of the Year poll, Owen placed eighth, with David Beckham narrowly coming in second to Luis Figo. Nevertheless, Owen’s remarkable achievements on the field and his impact on Liverpool’s victories solidified his place as a prominent figure in European football.

Overall, Owen’s historic win as European Footballer of the Year in 2001 has not only made him proud but has also cemented his legacy as an exceptional player, setting a benchmark for future English footballers to aspire to. His unwavering dedication and outstanding performance have earned him rightful recognition in the world of football, an achievement that will be celebrated for years to come.

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