The tragic demise of Owen Hargreaves
At the age of 32, the career of Owen Hargreaves seems all but over. At 19 years of age, Owen Hargreaves won the Champions League with Bayern Munich, then he won his second Champions League medal with Manchester United 7 years later. We recall the sad demise of the midfielder.
Now, at 32 and at an age where Hargreaves should be at his prime, it seems that Hargreaves' career could have reached the end. At just 19 years old the Canadian born midfielder burst onto the scene in the Bundesliga, making his debut for Bavarian side Bayern Munich. The following season Bayern would go on to win the Bundesliga, with Hargreaves becoming a first team regular in the centre of midfield.
Bayern are renowned for producing some of Europe's best midfielders, the likes of Stefan Effenberg and Lothar Matthaus both excelled at Germany's biggest club. Hargreaves too would be yet another player off the production line at the club.
It wasn't always going to be football as a choice of career for Hargreaves. Strangely enough, aged 15, the youngster wasn't even interested in soccer. He was more interested in ice hockey, which had become the most popular sport to watch in Canada. Playing for the Calgary Foothills for three years, he soon would catch the attention of visiting scouts, and in 1997 a move to Germany beckoned.
Over the course of an eight year career in Munich, Hargreaves played over 200 games for the club, but showed signs of injury proneness that would blight his development and later on his career. Some might say that Hargreaves was a victim of his own playing style. Industrious, always looking for the ball, running himself into the ground for his club; Hargreaves truly only ever gave 100 percent whenever he played.
In 2001, the midfielder completed his lifelong dream to represent the full international team of England. After Joe Baker, Hargreaves would be the only player in history to play for his country despite having not played for a team within England. The midfielder had three options to choose from, his country of birth, Canada; or his mother's country, Wales. Finally, his father originally came from England, and persuaded his soon that representing the English national team would be the route he should take. He made his father very proud on that first cap for England against the Netherlands back in 2001.
In the 2006-2007 season, when Manchester United were already knocking on Bayern's door with regards to a potential transfer for the player, the midfielder broke his leg. That would be the start of a torrid two years ahead.
Despite his leg break, Man Utd were able to complete a move for the midfielder, and he joined Sir Alex Ferguson's side in the summer. That season, Hargreaves would prove himself to be one of the finest young midfielder's of a generation, playing 34 games for United and winning the Champions League at the end of the year. Not many players win the Champions League, but Mr. Hargreaves had already won 2 by the age of 27.
From there onwards, everything would go downhill. A patellar tendinitis issue would cause him serious issue, whilst his famous knee injury issues cost him much playing time the following season. Richard Steadman, the world famous knee specialist, would operate on Hargreaves' knees. It wasn't until March 2010 that Hargreaves would reappear for United.
After nearly two years on the sidelines for United, Hargreaves finally made his first appearance in the starting line up in November 2010 against Wolves. The fans were looking forward to seeing the return of one of their club heroes. The rest of the story is well known. Hargreaves limped off after just five minutes - seemingly the biggest blow of his gliterring career - another set back for the midfielder.
In May 2011, Sir Alex Ferguson told reporters that the player would not be offered a new contract. It is understood that the player was distraught after hearing of his exit from United, and even offered to play at Old Trafford for free. Such is the quality and spirit of the tireless midfielder, that he would even be willing to play on for love and not money.
The following year, Manchester City surprised many with their free transfer signing of Hargreaves. Over the course of the year, the player took part in just four games. He would leave the Etihad Stadium at the end of the year, playing just a very small part of a Championship winning campaign for the Citizens.
From there on, we reach this season. Queens Park Rangers and Sunderland were amongst the teams eager to bring Hargreaves to the club; but it is understood that both teams turned down their option to sign the player due to his injury problems.
Where Hargreaves has been since last summer, nobody truly knows. Is his career over? Nobody truly knows. The sad fact is that football is missing one amazing and incredibly talented midfielder. The other sad fact is that his excellent work ethic and tireless playing style may have cost him his footballing career far too early.