Michael Owen will captain England tonight in his 50th appearance becoming the yo
Michael Owen will captain England tonight in his 50th appearance becoming the youngest ever England player to reach that total.
The crucial Euro 2004 Qualifier against Slovakia will be Owen's sixth game standing in for regular skipper David Beckham, who is suspended for this game, but will be the first time he leads out his country for a competitive game.
"Only a couple of players in the squad have got 50 caps, so to be captain as well for the night, should round it off," he says.
"I've captained the side when David's gone off but never started in a competitive game - and that will make it even better.
"I think Bobby Moore was one of the youngest at 25 (to reach 50 caps) but with the way things are going these days - Wayne Rooney was 17 and in the squad - someone will probably take the record off me. I am expecting one of these youngsters to come along and take the record off me."
Not only will the Liverpool striker take two years off Moore's record, he'll get his half-century on the board three years faster than two other members of the '66 World Cup squad, Bobby Charlton and Jimmy Greaves, and when you compare him to England's two recent 'goal-machines', Owen will reach fifty five years ahead of Alan Shearer and six quicker than Gary Lineker.
Sven-Goran Eriksson, England's Head Coach, describes Owen's acheivement as 'amazing' and predicts he will go on playing, and scoring, for England for years to come.
"Michael can play football for another 10 years, he will probably reach 200!
"It is absolutely amazing. No one in England has reached 50 caps so young and I'd like to know if anyone else in the world has."
Following on from yesterday's look at highlights from Michael's first 25 games, we carry on today with the best moments from match 26 through to his 49th and most recent...
Twenty Six - England 2-1 Finland, World Cup Qualifier - Anfield, 24th March 2001
It was a real Liverpool affair at Anfield on the chilly Saturday afternoon. Not only did England, wearing red, boast the local boys of Owen, Gerrard, Fowler and Heskey in their squad, there was also a start for ex-red Steve McManaman, while Hyypia and Litmanen were in the Finland ranks. However, Crystal Palace man Aki Riihilahti did not read the script and put Finland ahead on 27 minutes. From only one point from their first two games, England needed to get their World Cup campaign on track and three points were a must. Up stepped Owen just before half-time to convert Cole's pass by driving left-footed - past the lunge of club mate Hyypia - into the corner of the Finland goal. David Beckham's second-half strike completed the comeback to give Sven's side the win in his first competitive game in charge.
Twenty Seven - Albania 1-3 England, World Cup Qualifier - Tirana, 28th March 2001
Four days later, England and Owen were back in action, but it took the first half for Sven's men to get going in Tirana. Only a win would do again and it wasn't until 17 minutes from time that the deadlock looked like being broken. Owen again provided the inspiration picking up a Scholes slide-rule pass to poke underneath 'keeper Strakosha's body giving England the lead. Michael's goal set England on their way Scholes then added a second with five minutes left, and despite a late Albania consolation, Andy Cole rounded it off in injury time netting his first international goal.
Thirty One - Germany 1-5 England, World Cup Qualifier - Munich, 1st September 2001
It started so badly, but who'd have thought that it would become such a glorious night for England? Jancker made it 1-0 on six minutes prodding past Seaman, but Owen and two Liverpool team mates were about to make history. Michael pulled England level within five minutes and by half-time it was 2-1, Steven Gerrard driving in a screamer from a Rio knock down on 45 minutes. The comeback fired England on and three minutes after the break Owen added a third before he rounded off grabbed his first England hat-trick on 66 minutes, smashing home high to Kahn's right - and the England fans were in heaven. It was almost too much when Heskey completed the rout finishing off a clever move with seventeen minutes left on referee Collina's watch.
Thirty Two - England 2-0 Albania, World Cup Qualifier - St James' Park, 5th September 2001
Once again England were grateful to Owen and his Liverpool strike partner Robbie Fowler, who scored at the end of either half to put England on the verge of World Cup Qualification. Paul Scholes supplying a deft chip to Owen on 42 minutes allowing our man to guide a volley past Strakosha for one-nil. Robbie Fowler's tidy chip at the end meant that a win in the last match of the group stage against Greece would put them on the plane to Korea and Japan.
Thirty Four - England 4-0 Paraguay, Friendly - Liverpool, 17th April 2002
Just four minutes into his debut as skipper, when Owen becomes the youngest England captain since Bobby Moore, The Liverpool striker heads England into the lead at Anfield's Kop end from a Steven Gerrard cross, something he does regularly domestically. Another club mate, Danny Murphy, made it 2-0 just after the break before Darius Vassell and an Ayala own-goal gave England great confidence before going out to the Far East a month later.
Thirty Six - South Korea 1-1 England, Friendly - Seogwipo, 21st May 2002
England warmed up for the World Cup against the relatively unknown co-hosts, South Korea, and would have expected more than a draw, especially when Owen put Sven's men in front midway through the first half. A Scholes drive is blocked well by Woon Jae Lee, but the boy wonder is there to prod home the re-bound with a mixture of knee and foot. Ji Sung Park scores the home side's goal shortly after half time with a diving header.
Thirty Seven - Sweden 1-1 England, World Cup 2002 - Saitama, 2nd June 2002
England's opening game in Japan ends with a 1-1 draw against Sven's native Sweden. This one was Beckham's 50th cap but Sol Campbell's header on 23 minutes was not enough to end it with a win. Everton's Niclas Alexandersson scored on 59 minutes and England saw out the match with their backs to the walls.
Forty - Denmark 0-3 England, World Cup 2002 - Niigata, 15th June 2002
Michael's first goal in this World Cup comes in England's comprehensive second phase win over Denmark. Rio Ferdinand starts things off with a header that Sunderland 'keeper Thomas Sorensen couldn't keep out, then Owen makes it two on 22 minutes. Nicky Butt flicks on Trevor Sinclair's pass into the box and Owen does the rest pushing in a left-footer into the corner. Emile Heskey seals England's place in the last eight just before the break.
Forty One - Brazil 2-1 England, World Cup 2002 - Shizuoka, 21st June 2002
If only England could have held on to their lead, who knows what could have happened. When Owen takes advantage of a Lucio mistake then keeps a cool nerve to send Marcos to the ground before chipping in, England are looking ahead to the semis. But Rivaldo's goal just before the break hurts England and, no sooner are they back out, than Ronaldinho has turned things around with his audacious shot/cross looping in. Despite the same player seeing red, England can't get back in the game and are out of the World Cup.
Forty Three - Slovakia 1-2 England, Euro 2004 Qualifier - Bratislava, 12th October 2002
England open their European Championship Qualifying campaign with a hugely valuable victory coming from behind to take all three points courtesy of two priceless goals from David Beckham and Michael Owen. Middlesbrough striker Nemeth gives the home side a surprise 23rd minute lead. But Beckham's 64th minute free-kick, that Owen almost adds a touch to, makes it 1-1 and with 8 minutes to go, Owen claws England out of a hole nudging in Scholes' cross.
Forty Six - Liechtenstein 0-2 England, Euro 2004 Qualifier - Vaduz, 29th March 2003
Owen and Beckham grab the goals in Vaduz. Beckham makes it 2-0 on 63 minutes with a trade-mark free- kick. As for Owen, this strike - almost identical to his header against Paraguay a year ago - is his 20th international goal in 36 starts and puts England on the way to three more valuable points following the disappointment of a draw last time out against Macedonia.
Forty Nine - England 2-1 Serbia and Montenegro, Friendly - Leicester, 3rd June 2003
Leads England out for a fifth match as skipper at Leicester's new Walkers Stadium where goals from Steven Gerrard and a stunning Joe Cole free-kick in either half give Sven's men a confidence boosting victory.
Owen's complete England record
*Lost 4-3 on penalties
WCF - World Cup Finals
WCQ - World Cup Qualifier
ECF - European Championship Final
ECQ - European Championship Qualifier
KHC - King Hassan II Cup (Friendly Tournament)
FR - Friendly
England v Slovakia: Match Centre