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Blast from the past

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Not that he’s remotely relevant anymore, but still this old footage of Michael Owen at France 98 took me back, unearthed while going through some old Liverpool FC-related VHS tapes heading for the wheelie bin.

Here’s the transcribe…
Noon on Saturday 4 July 1998. BBC1 anchorman Steve Ryder hands over from Wimbledon where Jana Novotna will shortly win the Ladies Singles title, to Paris where a short-sleeved Gary Lineker sits in a modest little purpose-built, gold-riveted, diamond-encrusted studio overlooking the entire Place de la Concorde. With him to discuss the fallout from England’s elimination from the World Cup at the hands of Argentina, are Ally McCoist and Mark Lawrenson avec moustache and tan. Having mulled over the manner of England’s defeat and David Beckham’s sending-off, talk turns excitedly to Michael Owen…

Lineker: The biggest plus of all for England appears to be the unearthing of a genuine star. The whole world’s gone mad about the boy Owen… Cue VT footage in Super SloMo of Owen being happy, sad, excited, wistful and scoring that goal, to the soundtrack of Mad About The Boy, ending with John Champion pronouncing: ‘He is 18 years and 198 days old. Just think what he’ll be like when he grows up’.

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Back to Gary and the boys.
Lineker: Not sure what all the fuss is about [little laugh]. Mark?
Lawrenson: He’s already grown up, that’s the thing as well.
Lineker: Prodigious talent. Eulogise, as you will.
Lawrenson: Well I think he’s just been sensational. He’s taken the tournament by storm. Everybody wanted him to play from the start and Hoddle said, ‘No, I was always going to start him in the third game’. And I think the thing about him, Gary, he’s just got fantastic pace. And he seems such a nice lad, level-headed. People have been clattering him already in the World Cup. He just gets up, picks himself up. Not a problem. Gets on with it. And I think playing against him must be an absolute nightmare because he just runs at you with pace. And the way the rules are now as well, you can’t touch him. The rules are actually tailor-made for him. He can do all sorts.
His great problem, though, is going to be this season. He’s scored a wonder goal at the World Cup…

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Lineker: Reputation is so high…
Lawrenson: Everybody knows him…
Lineker: Expectation…
Lawrenson: Expectation. Great season for Liverpool. And he doesn’t know the word ‘failure’. He doesn’t know it. He got sent off against Manchester United, that’s the only blot on his copybook so far. Started the season for Liverpool and wasn’t expected to be in the team. It was going to be Riedle and Fowler, bring Owen off the bench. Exact thing happened at Liverpool as happened with England, and he’s been outstanding. And whether he can really keep that going remains to be seen. This season will be his most difficult, but he’s just such a refreshing talent.

Lineker: Ally?
McCoist: [shaking his head] Aw unbelievable. Totally agree with what Mark says. He doesn’t know the meaning of the word ‘failure’. But he also, just as importantly in my opinion, doesn’t know the meaning of the word ‘fear’. He’s playing without fear. He’s running at guys, he’s scoring goals, he’s brave. Even the penalty that he took was probably one of the best penalties we’ve seen in the tournament. In off the post, too, there’s no goalkeeper on earth could save that.
Lineker: [laughing] He probably meant it as well!
McCoist: He’s frightening. The goal was unbelievable. We’ve spoken about the goal before, but he actually pushes Scholes out the road at the end of it as well. He says, ‘This is mine, I’m finishing it’. But the thing is, I think he’s one lad that can handle it. Next season is going to be very, very important for him. But looking at him, he’s level-headed, nothing gets to him, and I think he’ll handle it.

Lawrenson: He probably improves England by 30 per cent. And for one player to do that, at that level, is fantastic.
Lineker: Amazing. Lots to look forward to. [suddenly hang-dog] We’ll have to wait four years, though…

What happened next:
Lawro’s ‘difficult’ season for Owen saw him score 23 goals in 40 games for Liverpool until a hamstring injury against Leeds United in April 1999 curtailed his campaign. Ultimately he scored 40 goals in 89 internationals and became the only player to score in four major tournaments for England (France 98, Euro 2000, Japan/South Korea 2002 and Euro 2004).

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