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On This Day: Michael Owen is named European Footballer of the Year

The Liverpool striker became the first Englishman to land the Ballon d'Or award since Kevin Keegan in 1979.

Michael Owen was named European Footballer of the Year on this day in 2001.

The Liverpool striker became the first Englishman to land the Ballon d'Or award since Kevin Keegan claimed it for a second successive time in 1979.

And Owen was the sixth British winner since its inception in 1956 – a list also featuring Stanley Matthews, Denis Law, Bobby Charlton and George Best.

Owen netted both of Liverpool's goals as they beat Arsenal 2-1 in the 2001 FA Cup final (Tom Hevezi/PA).
Owen netted both of Liverpool's goals as they beat Arsenal 2-1 in the 2001 FA Cup final (Tom Hevezi/PA)

With 176 votes, he was ahead of Real Madrid and Spain star Raul (140) and Bayern Munich and Germany goalkeeper Oliver Khan (114) in the top three following a poll of journalists conducted by France Football magazine.

Owen had helped Gerard Houllier's Liverpool win the FA Cup, League Cup, UEFA Cup and Super Cup during the calendar year – scoring twice in the 2-1 FA Cup final win over Arsenal – and netted a hat-trick in England's 5-1 win over Germany in Munich in September.

At the point he was confirmed as the Ballon d'Or winner, his record for club and country in 2001 was 36 goals in 54 appearances.

The striker, who had only just turned 22, said: "We have had a great year at Liverpool in winning five trophies (including the Charity Shield) and I'm very happy to have won this award as well.

Owen's trophy haul in 2001 also included the UEFA Cup (David Davies/PA).
Owen's trophy haul in 2001 also included the UEFA Cup (David Davies/PA)

"Some fantastic names past and hopefully in the future are going to win this award. I am very happy and delighted to join that list.

"It's the highest privilege I can win as a player and I am over the moon to win it. I would like to thank the team and all the staff, everyone who is involved with Liverpool. It's their award too."

Owen was eighth in the FIFA World Player of the Year poll of international coaches, in which David Beckham was narrowly runner-up to Luis Figo.

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Wednesday's key events


ROWING
· Team GB have dominated the men's coxless fours in recent Olympics, winning on each of the last five occasions, but this year they face some stiff competition. They are one of four rowing medal contenders for Great Britain today (2.10am)

SWIMMING
· Katie Ledecky and Ariarne Titmus face off again in the women's 200m freestyle final, with the latter having already come out on top in the 400m event (2.41am)
· Team GB's Abbie Wood is among the medal contenders in the women's 200m individual medley final, while teammate Alicia Wilson will also take part. USA's Kate Douglass was the fastest qualifier, while world and Olympic record holder Katinka Hosszu is also involved (3.45am)
· Katie Ledecky could make it two golds in one morning as she goes into the 1500m freestyle final as heavy favourite, having broken the Olympic record in qualifying (3.54am)
· Team GB were by far the fastest qualifiers for the men's 4x200m freestyle relay final and will therefore be favourites for another gold in the pool (4.26am)

RUGBY SEVENS
· Team GB take on New Zealand in the first men's semi-final, having been beaten by reigning champions Fiji but then come from behind to overcome USA on day two (3am)
· The sevens gold medal match takes place at Tokyo Stadium, with the winner of Great Britain vs. New Zealand taking on either Argentina or Fiji (10am)

ARTISTIC GYMNASTICS
· Joe Fraser and James Hall compete for Team GB in the men's all-around final (11.15am-2.10pm)

CYCLING
· Anna Shackley will take part in the women's road time trial (from 3.30am)
· Geraint Thomas and Tao Geoghegan Hart have medal ambitions for Great Britain in the men's road time trial, although both will need to recover from the crash they suffered on Saturday (6am)

DIVING
· Jack Laugher bids to retain his men's 3m synchro diving title alongside new partner Daniel Goodfellow (7am)

EQUESTRIAN
· Charlotte Dujardin will look to add to her already legendary status with a third successive Olympic individual dressage title (9.30am-1.25pm)

> Today's schedule in full
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