man united sign owen

MANCHESTER - Michael Owen has joined English champions Manchester United on a two-year contract, the club announced on Friday in a remarkable turnaround for the injury-prone striker.

MANCHESTER - Michael Owen has joined English champions Manchester United on a two-year contract, the club announced on Friday in a remarkable turnaround for the injury-prone striker.

England forward Owen, 29, a free agent after his Newcastle contract expired last week, underwent a medical at a Manchester hospital on Friday before returning to United's Carrington training ground to complete the shock deal.

The move came after the only clubs interested in signing the former Liverpool and Real Madrid striker appeared to be Stoke and Hull - both teams for whom staying in the Premier League is an achievement in itself.

United manager Sir Alex Ferguson insisted that signing Owen did not represent a gamble on his part.

"Michael is a world-class forward with a proven goalscoring record at the highest level and that has never been in question," said Ferguson.

It has been reported that Ferguson has signed a pay-as-you-play deal with Owen, whose weekly wage at Newcastle was believed to have been as high as $197,000.

Owen, who scored just 10 goals for the Magpies as they were relegated from the Premier League last season, said he'd been as stunned as anyone by United's interest in him.

"I agreed without a moment's thought. This is a fantastic opportunity for me and I intend to seize it with both hands," Owen said.

Owen joined Newcastle from Real Madrid in 2005 but his time at St James' Park was blighted by a litany of injuries, including foot, concussion, knee, thigh, groin, ankle and calf problems.

But his career could be rejuvenated by playing alongside the likes of England striker Wayne Rooney at Old Trafford. - Sapa-AFP

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