Here is a quote from the sports commentator Sid Waddell, speaking about darts legend Eric Bristow, which you may well have read before somewhere....
"When Alexander the Great was 33, he cried salt tears because there were no more worlds to conquer. Bristow is only 27."
Michael Owen is 25.
Most of us mere mortals reach our quarter-century mark looking forwards rather than back. There will of course be plenty of memories and milestones already in place to cherish, a degree perhaps, an important promotion, maybe finding the love of your life, maybe just negotiating your youth successfully. But we are thinking of the victories to come, rather than the ones already tucked under our belts.
It is different for Owen. He looks back on a winning brace in an FA Cup Final, a European Footballer of the Year award and one of the greatest goals that will ever grace the World Cup Finals. He might recall the lows as well, disappointments with Liverpool, the Spanish Adventure that never quite was and being written off as past it by the age of 24.
It seems a peculiar type of madness that anyone could declare Owen's powers to be bankrupt at such an early point in his career, and yet that is the curse for one who achieves much too much, much too young.
Right now however, there can be no doubt about what a splendid talent this man possesses. Last Saturday he electrified a nation with two goals against one of our favourite foes, and if we allow ourselves to just concentrate on that moment, to not concern ourselves with the bigger picture, then we must applaud Owen for making so many of us leap up, shout out and just for a few seconds, feel really goooood about being English.
It will be clear to Jose Mourinho that this is not a good time to be facing such a man on fire, Chelsea are in a minor fug and Roman has apparently been sending his minions down to the training ground to get some answers. Mourinho's team have been scattered across the globe on international duty and he must pull them back together as quickly as possible. In contrast, some of the key players from Chelsea's opposition this Saturday have been able to spend the international break with their feet up. Newcastle's Scott Parker will be refreshed and raring to go and if you add his influence to a fired-up Owen, then you have more potential headaches for Jose. We predict however, that this is exactly the point when Chelsea will choose to re-affirm their superiority, proving that they are another force which we should be ill-advised to write off. Home win.
Charlton vs Man U
Last year's capitulation to United ranks as one of Alan Curbishley's lowest moments as manager of Charlton and you would expect him to ensure that his side are frothing at the mouth for this one. United will be desperate to begin the post-Keane era with a win and show that their triumph over Chelsea can be the start of something special, but we feel that they will have to settle for just a point. Draw.
Wigan vs Arsenal
Another (potentially) great game. Fixtures computer, truly you spoil us. The Arse are running out of defenders again and Thierry is complaining about fixture pile-up. Not a good time to come up against Jimmy Bullard et al then, but expect Arsenal to prevail. Away win.
Middlesbrough vs Fulham (Sunday)
The runt of the litter. Less said about this one the better. Home win.
Tottingham vs West Ham (Sunday)
An absolute feast of young English talent. Cast your eyes over King, Carrick, Lennon, Noble and Ferdinand and dream of future greatness. West Ham will miss Reo-Coker but hope that Edward Sheringham can provide some telling wisdom. Spurs should have too much though, but only if Defoe can find his shooting boots. Home win.