Mark Thompson/Getty Images
Michael Owen: 1996-2004
Michael Owen exploded onto the domestic scene with 18 goals in his first full season with Liverpool, earning the PFA Young Player of the Year award along the way, and he earned worldwide recognition following his wonder goal against Argentina in the 1998 World Cup.
Owen's speed and devastating finishing ability meant that he was a potent weapon for the Reds and a huge nuisance for many an opposing defender. Under Gerard Houllier's guidance, he and Emile Heskey struck up a fruitful partnership, latterly joined by the budding Steven Gerrard, and the three would go on to produce great things in an England shirt as well.
His glittering career reached another high note when he became the first and only Englishman to win the European Footballer of the Year award, and he scored 28 goals in Liverpool's excellent 2001-2002 season.
How Liverpool Missed Him
Gerard Houllier's final season proved to be Michael Owen's as well, as the latter wanted to fulfill his dreams when Real Madrid came calling. Him being in the last year of his contract, however, Owen left Liverpool for a mere £8 million, with Madrid reserve Antonio Nunez going the opposite way.
While the 2004-2005 season, Rafa Benitez's first with Liverpool, will forever be remembered for the thrilling Champions League win against AC Milan in May 2005, it doesn't go unnoticed in these quarters that Liverpool finished in fifth place in the Premier League, a fact that wasn't helped by the lack of a genuine goalscoring and finishing threat since Owen's departure.
While strikers like Milan Baros and Djibril Cisse attempted to fill his shoes, Owen would not be replaced in the goalscoring charts until Fernando Torres' arrival a few years later.