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Owen agrees to join Newcastle
Updated: 2005-08-31 10:09

NEWCASTLE, England, Aug 30 - England striker Michael Owen agreed a four-year contract to join Newcastle United on Tuesday, ending an unhappy year at Real Madrid.

Owen displays his Number-10 jersey of New Castle
The 25-year-old former European Footballer of the Year passed his medical later in the day and was scheduled to complete his move on Wednesday for a club record fee of more than 15 million pounds ($27.11 million).

"He's someone who can become a legend with Newcastle United fans," manager Graeme Souness told the club's website.

"In football, the hardest thing to get in your team is someone who puts the ball in the back of the net and Michael is the best at doing that for England."

United have failed to score a goal in their first four league games this season and are second from bottom in the standings with just one point.

New signing, Spanish international Albert Luque, speaking from Spain's training camp before next week's World Cup qualifiers, said: "He's a brilliant player and just what we need. We need goals and he can provide them.

"I'm sure that he will slot into the team very quickly and that, together with myself and (Alan) Shearer, we can form a good attacking trio.

"I hope that with him on board we can get back on course and start winning games. He knows the Spanish league and that will help us strike up a good understanding together."

Owen had also been linked with a return to Liverpool, the club he left last year for eight million pounds when he chose to follow in the footsteps of England captain David Beckham and sign for nine-times European champions Real.


England striker Michael Owen agreed a four-year contract to join Newcastle United on Tuesday, ending an unhappy year at Real Madrid.He would have preferred to return to his former club but Liverpool coach Rafa Benitez appeared reluctant to buy him back.

Newcastle asked Real about Owen's availability three weeks ago and stepped up their bid to sign him after a poor start to the season in which they gathered only one point from four matches and failed to score a goal.

With the World Cup beckoning next year, Owen decided that only by moving away from the Bernabeu would he get the games he needed to book his place in the England side alongside Wayne Rooney.

Owen joined Real last August after eight seasons at Liverpool in which he scored 158 goals in 297 matches, helping the Merseysiders win the FA Cup, League Cup and UEFA Cup in 2001 before being named European Footballer of the Year.

Unlike fellow Galacticos Zinedine Zidane, Ronaldo and Beckham, however, the England striker did not walk straight into the first team and had to settle for a place on the bench early in the season.

Competing with Ronaldo, Raul and Fernando Morientes for a place in the front line, Owen made the most of his opportunities to convince first Jose Antonio Camacho and then his successors Mariano Garcia Remon and Vanderlei Luxemburgo.

He scored some vital winning goals but it was not until the latter stages of the season that he was rewarded with a regular starting place.

Owen ended the season with 16 goals in all competitions and provided further evidence of his sharpness with a hat-trick in England's 3-2 win over Colombia during their post-season tour of the United States.

He is now fourth on the all-time England scorers list with 32 goals, 17 behind Bobby Charlton who tops the table with 49 international strikes.

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