Hodgson hails 'magnificent' Owen

LONDON (AFP) - England manager Roy Hodgson described Michael Owen's goalscoring record for his country as "magnificent" after the striker announced on Tuesday his intention to retire at the end of the season.

The 33-year-old Owen scored 40 goals in 89 appearances for England and won the prestigious Ballon d'Or in 2001, but the latter years of his career were disrupted by injuries.

Following a three-year stint at Manchester United, he joined Stoke City last year but has barely played since arriving at the Britannia Stadium.

"Michael Owen's record of 89 England appearances and 40 goals is a magnificent landmark," Hodgson told the FA's official website.

"Some of his international strikes were spectacular and have already gone down in England's modern football history.

"Although I never got to work with him personally, he always conducted himself extremely well on and off the pitch and was a fine ambassador for English football.

"Today is a day that we should recognise his achievements of which he should be very proud.

"I wish him all the best in the next part of his career and hope that he is able to pass some of his great experience back into the game." Owen made his name globally aged just 18 with a superb solo goal against Argentina at the 1998 World Cup in France and current England midfielder Frank Lampard said that strike would remain his enduring memory of the forward.

"Michael Owen had a fantastic career and will go down in history as one of the greatest strikers we've had in history," said Lampard.

"He was a player I was proud to play alongside. He deserves very high praise.

"The Argentina goal - to come on at the age he did and score a goal of eye-catching quality - as a fan watching to see what he did was very special.

It sticks in everyone's mind." Owen announced his retirement on his personal website, writing: "It is with an immense amount of pride that I am announcing my intention to retire from Professional Football at the end of this season.

"I have been very fortunate in that my career has taken me on a journey that, like many young players starting out, I could only have dreamt of."

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