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On This Day in 2001: Michael Owen is named European Footballer of the Year

Germany v England
(Image credit: Gareth Copley)

Michael Owen was named European Footballer of the Year on this day in 2001.

The Liverpool striker became the first Englishman to land the Ballon d’Or award since Kevin Keegan claimed it for a second successive time in 1979.

And Owen was the sixth British winner since its inception in 1956 – a list also featuring Stanley Matthews, Denis Law, Bobby Charlton and George Best.

Owen netted both of Liverpool's goals as they beat Arsenal 2-1 in the 2001 FA Cup final (Tom Hevezi/PA).

Owen netted both of Liverpool’s goals as they beat Arsenal 2-1 in the 2001 FA Cup final (Tom Hevezi/PA)

With 176 votes, he was ahead of Real Madrid and Spain star Raul (140) and Bayern Munich and Germany goalkeeper Oliver Khan (114) in the top three following a poll of journalists conducted by France Football magazine.

Owen had helped Gerard Houllier’s Liverpool win the FA Cup, League Cup, UEFA Cup and Super Cup during the calendar year – scoring 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 point he was confirmed as the Ballon d’Or winner, his record for club and country in 2001 was 36 goals in 54 appearances.

The striker, who had only just turned 22, said: “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.

Owen's trophy haul in 2001 also included the UEFA Cup (David Davies/PA).

Owen’s trophy haul in 2001 also included the UEFA Cup (David Davies/PA)

“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.”

Owen was eighth in the FIFA World Player of the Year poll of international coaches, in which David Beckham was narrowly runner-up to Luis Figo.