I have always had a special affinity for Owen Hargreaves. Not to the point where I would actually let him shag my wife, if I were married, but pretty darn close. You see, like me, Owen is Canadian and like me he has an English father. So he chose to play for England at international level rather than Canada, or Wales, and he was vilified by a certain portion of the Canadian football fanbase. I never really got on board with that sentiment because, lets be honest, if I was as good as Owen at playing footy I would have done the same thing. Hockey, baseball, basketball and whatever else I would have picked Canada hands down. But football? I can't think of anything I would rather do than pull on the 3 Lions and run out for England. If nothing else because my father would have loved to see that. So yeah, I liked Owen long before he came to United. And then he came to United, and the fans gave him possibly my favourite United song ever.
Oh Owen Hargreaves (via mancuniamerchandise)
Some of you may have missed it but most of you know that Owen is not training right now and has been back in the States seeing a specialist. He won't be ready for a return to the United 11 for the start of the season. And the questions are now being asked. Is Owen Hargreaves done? Is his career over? Well I for one hope not. I sincerely hope he gets to play another season or two and I will explain why after the jump.My desire to see Owen play again has nothing to do with his stats or his accomplishments. I don't want to see him play again because he is a 2 time Champions League winner, including his first season at Old Trafford. I don't want to see him play for United again because of his curly hair or that damn song I love so much. I don't want to see him play again because we could use him in a title assault this season. I want to see him play again because of something he gave me once. A memory that will last a life time.
Owen Hargreaves has scored twice for United and one of those goals means a little more to me than most. You will remember it. It was not only a brilliant goal but was incredibly important in the title race at the time. His free kick to see off Arsenal was a turning point in our winning a League and Champions League double. And here it is.......
Manchester United vs Arsenal Hargreaves Goal (via mufc00)
A big goal for the club at a big moment in a title race. But that's not what I remember about it. I remember what it meant to my father. We were in Seattle on Apr 13th 2008 to watch a baseball game together and we decided to head to a pub called Fado in Seattle that shows live EPL games in the morning and serves a full Irish breakfast to boot. Now normally I watch United matches in my basement by myself because I live in a remote part of Canada and there aren't many United, or even football, fans in this area. Plus I get pretty worked up and I can't handle being wound up by fans of other teams. But on this occasion I was out watching the United game in a pub full of United and Arsenal supporters. I could barely stand it.
Arsenal took the lead just after halftime through an Adebayor goal that was a clear hand ball. But the goal stood. Not great news for United fans. The Arsenal brigade were giving us a bit of lip. Mostly good natured but not entirely. My father and I sat there glumly and wondered what we had got oursleves into. Usually when United lose a big match to a rival we don't talk to each other for a couple days just so the game doesn't come up. That's how we deal. We pretend it didn't happen. But how could we pretend this game hadn't happened?
Luckily the glumness and the lip from the Arse supporters lasted a little less than 5 minutes. The handball that wasn't spotted on Adebayor's goal was spotted when William Gallas handled in his own box. Ronaldo, as usual, dispatched the penalty in unerring fashion. Game on! Now it was our turn to give it to the Arse supporters which we gladly did. 7 am and the beer was flowing and United were on top. It was a pulsating encounter with as much ebb and flow as you would expect from the best the EPL has to offer.Tevez fired a thunderbolt inches wide, Van Der Sar reacted brilliantly to tip a deflected Clichy cross onto his post, and Rooney should have scored after Evra did well to find him on the edge of the box. I don't think I have ever felt the emotions that I felt in that game. The highs were higher than ever and the lows even lower. This is why I watch these games alone I remember thinking.
And then it happened. A free kick. 20 yards out and the perfect angle for a right footer to curl one. Would Ronaldo go for power? Nope. He left it for Hargo. The gritty ball winning midfield bulldog who had shown in the past he was pretty handy with a dead ball situation. When that ball cleared the wall and Lehmann hadn't moved....it was almost like slow motion. You knew the ball was going in you just had to sit and wait for the net to bulge. And when it did, my god did we celebrate. I have never seen my father jump that high. The look of pure, unadulterated joy on his face is something I will never forget. Despite a nervy ending United hung on for the win and not long after won the league and the Champions League as well. But despite watching that CL final with my father and enjoying a pretty boozy celebration that night it's Owen Hargreaves' free kick that is perhaps my favourite United memory.
I'm lucky that I still have my father and I hope to have many more United related experiences with the man who taught me about this team and helped me fall in love with it. But one day I know he won't be on this planet anymore. Hopefully not anytime soon but it is going to happen. And thanks to Owen Hargreaves I will have a memory of my father I will never forget. And for that I hope he gets one or two more seasons. He deserves it for what he has given me.
And now that I think of it.....maybe he can shag my wife. But just once.