SPORTS

FIFA World Cup-England's Calgary Connection

5/28/2006

Owen Hargreaves has been making headlines since he was sixteen. As a midfielder for the Calgary Foothills, Hargreaves got his mug in Sports Illustrated after finishing the season with 21 goals and leading his team to Alberta’s provincial title



Owen Hargreaves has been making headlines since he was sixteen. As a midfielder for the Calgary Foothills, Hargreaves got his mug in Sports Illustrated after finishing the season with 21 goals and leading his team to Alberta’s provincial title. Soccer fanatics quickly took note when Hargreaves became the first North American to be accepted to Bayern Munich’s elite development team.



The accolades keep coming for Hargreaves who is now 25. He has won four German League Championships, two German Cups, and one Champions League title—all with the Bundesliga powerhouse Bayern Munich. Because Hargreaves father Colin was born in Bolton, Hargreaves is eligible to play for the English national team and he appeared at both the 2002 World Cup and Euro 2004.

While Sven Göran Eriksson, England’s manager, is fond of Hargreaves, England’s talent pool is deeper than the Thames (projected starting midfielders include David Beckham, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard and Joe Cole), so it remains to be seen how much playing time Hargreaves will get, especially after missing two months of the season following groin surgery. However, Hargreaves is no slouch and his grit, determination and man-marking mastery will be a valuable asset to England if Eriksson chooses him.

“I’m fast and I’m strong and I’m difficult to go around. With my speed even if I get beat I can normally get back [to the ball]. It’s difficult to play against a player with more determination than technical ability,” enthuses Hargreaves.

Often charged with shadowing superstars, Hargreaves isn’t afraid of going toe-to-toe with anybody. Asked how he’d contain Brazil’s Ronaldinho (in Hargreaves’ opinion, “the best players in the world”), he doesn’t shy away from the challenge: “I’d just make his life as difficult as possible, and let him know that I’m there. A lot of the time players lose a little interest when they realize that a guy is going to be behind them for 90 minutes.”

Before England can get to Brazil, they’ve got to get out of the group stage where Hargreaves feels Sweden and Paraguay will present the greatest difficulty.

“While they are from completely different places, they have very similar styles. Both teams have great strikers and they’re both strong at the back. We’ve had a few problems with Sweden in the past so that may possibly be the tougher game.”

Fun Factoid: One of Hargreaves first jobs was as a paperboy in Calgary. Highlights of his route included stops at Theo Fleury’s and Trevor Kidd’s houses.

HARGREAVES MINI Q&A:

What do you watch on the tube in your downtime?
I like watching Seinfeld, NBA Basketball if I can, and Law & Order and CSI.

Some soccer players do like 300 sit-ups a day, what’s the most impressive part of your workout?

I do sit-ups everyday but I think 300 is too much. I don’t do anything crazy. I do five sets of push-ups and sit-ups and then I do some stretches and a little bit of yoga to keep me flexible and a lot of massage.

If you could have any superpower to improve your game what would it be?

I’d want to have skills like Ronaldinho has, I’d love to be able to do all those crazy tricks and he’s such an incredibly talented guy to watch.

Do you have any pre-game rituals?

I wouldn’t call it a ritual but I always put everyone on my left first. My socks and my foot in the shorts but that’s more about routine I think but you could possibly view that as superstition.

An abbreviated version of this article without the Q&A first ran in the June 2006 issue of Bell T.V. Magazine


Copyright © Mike Dojc, 2006

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