With Jermain Defoe’s astonishing five goal haul almost certainly confirming his place in the England squad for South Africa*, spare a thought for Michael Owen. The ex-England striker is believed to have spent a blurred Sunday night re-watching his 1998 goal against Argentina, six times. Which is a whole one more than five.
The video showcase began sometime around 4.46pm on Sunday as Defoe drilled in his fifth goal. Owen’s neighbours reported hearing an exasperated Martin Tyler, seemingly hired for the day, forced to provide live commentary each time that the striker rewound the clip. Though some ear witnesses swore that they heard “noticeable wails” from Owen whenever Tyler said the words “this 18-year-old has electrified the world”.
Teddy Sheringham’s agent confirmed that his client, a pundit who has now gone over a hundred appearances without registering a single opinion, also visited Owen’s home to commiserate. After having spoken with Owen for as many as three bursts of 5 minutes at a time (between commercial breaks and competitions), the departing Sheringham was asked by the gathered press what words he had chosen to comfort the crestfallen striker. With a wistful, faraway and entirely unintentional look in his eyes, Sheringham replied “Goals, chances, scores. Score chance goals. Goalychancescores. Goals”.
By now the tape had given out. Lit only by the flickering snow of the television, Owen was spotted gingerly teasing the last remnants of the famous video from the hungry maw of his obsolete video player, with tatters of crumbling black film slipping away and fluttering down into his tasteless carpet. Sent into a rage at this painfully drawn-out allegory for his crumbling career and body, and after someone told him what allegory meant, he passed out on the floor.
Owen slept fitfully, tossing – yet not turning as he had a sore hip – tormented by a recurring dream where the shy Jamie, the 13-year-old he tormented in the 1999 BBC series Michael Owen’s Soccer Skills, is now 23 and unbeatable, interspersing each save with his own satirical series of empty celebrations, fevered fist-pumps and charmless chuckles.