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On the night Michael Owen's hat-trick shattered Germany, where exactly were Stoke and Hull in the fo

25 Jun 2009 10:23:22

On the night Michael Owen's hat-trick shattered Germany, where exactly were Stoke and Hull in the fo

The Michael Owen legend was born on June 30 1998 with THAT goal against Argentina during the World Cup. But Owen secured lifelong cult status with a hat-trick against Germany in Munich on September 1 2001 as England won 5-1 and it seemed only a matter of time before the 21-year-old Liverpool striker broke Bobby Charlton's all-time record of 49 goals for his country. However, the dream has become a nightmare for Owen. he's been stuck on 40 England goals since September 2007 and doesn't even now make the squad. Now 29 and ravaged by injury, his days at Liverpool and Real Madrid are now just a distant memory - as are his £20m transfer fees and £120,000 a week wages - and after suffering relegation from the Premier League with Newcastle, he has been forced to tout himself to English clubs with a 32-page brochure advocating 'the icon, the ambassador, the athlete.' The only two takers appear to be Stoke City and Hull City, Premier League clubs admittedly, but a million miles from where Owen hoped to be as he entered his 30s and with two more World Cups in him. And when Owen boarded the plane after that treble against the Germans eight years ago, he could never have thought it would come to this - not only coveted by minor 'big' clubs but coveted ONLY by minor 'big' clubs. Sportsmail decided to have a look back and see where Hull and Stoke were in the footballing scheme of things the day Owen stunned the world with his triple whammy. Hull City were in the fourth tier of English football. All fixtures had been postponed on September 1 but in their last match before Owen's hat-trick, they saw off the mighty  Kidderminster 2-1 thanks to a last-minute goal from leading scorer Gary Alexander. They followed this up with a 4-0 thumping of York City - for the record, both teams Hull beat are now non-league. And while Owen & Co looked forward to the summer World Cup in Japan and South Korea, Hull finished 11th after winning just once in their final 12 games. They also lost to the likes of Rochdale, Mansfield, Darlington and Hartlepool, the latter 4-0 .  Stoke City fared a little better. They were in the third tier and although they eventually went up via the play-offs, they only picked up one point either side of the Munich goalfest. A 2-1 defeat at Tranmere was followed by a home 1-1 draw with Huddersfield both goals scored by Peter Thorne. And although they briefly led the division, defeats to the likes of Port Vale, Bournemouth and Brentford were hardly the sort of results that were going to make Owen jump ship. Not that the golden boy of English football would have noticed. He probably only read the Premier League table and racing results in his newspaper and if Liverpool were ever drawn against minor sides in the cup, he would probably have expected a day off while Gerard Houllier wheeled out Igor Biscan, Djimi Traore, Stephen Warnock and Abel Xavier and a host of youth players whose fate was probably to be loaned out or even sold to 'up and coming clubs.' Clubs a bit like Stoke and Hull - clubs who are dining at the top table now but feeding off scraps and know they face a relegation battle even before a ball is kicked. They need to win that battle to keep their heads above water - Owen might feel aggrieved they are the only ones who filled in the forms at the back of his prospectus but his record of 10 goals in 31 appearances last season is hardly Premier League class. And neither are his current team Newcastle any more so a season with a genuine footballing outfit might just get him back online and catch the eye of England boss Fabio Capello. That is, providing he knows how to get to Hull or Stoke in the first place...


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