Not many memorable pieces of Liverpool FC history have taken place on October 24 throughout history, but it does mark the anniversary of one of the finest individual performances from a striker in the famous red shirt.
Michael Owen is a controversial figure among the Anfield faithful. There is no denying his ability — he was an outstanding player when plying his trade on Merseyside — but actions since leaving and a spell at bitter rivals Manchester United have left a sour taste in the mouths of many.
Up there with scoring on his debut away at Wimbledon and his brace in the 2001 FA Cup final victory over Arsenal, his solo show at Anfield against Nottingham Forest in 1998 is up there with his finest moments in a Liverpool shirt.
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Co-managers Roy Evans and Gérard Houllier had decided to drop the 18-year-old in the midweek clash with Valencia in the build up to this one, worried about overstretching a gifted but still raw talent. The player’s response at the weekend was loud and clear.
Joined in attack by Karl-Heinz Riedle as Robbie Fowler became the latest to drop to the bench, it took Owen only 10 minutes to get on the scoresheet at the beginning of a painful afternoon for the visitors.
His German strike partner had played him into an acre of space after Paul Ince’s crunching tackle. Still left with a lot to do, the teenager set himself and bent a delicious effort into the top corner, well out of reach of the helpless Dave Beasant.
Owen found the back of the net again before half-time, along with Steve McManaman, giving the Reds a 3-1 advantage heading into the break. Dougie Freedman’s equaliser had given Forest a brief glimpse of hope, but they had been well beaten in the opening 45 minutes.
The England international needed only wait until the 71st minute, when a penalty was awarded and he would have his chance to grab a hat-trick. Not only did he do exactly that, but he grabbed another after a long David James throw to score four for the first time in his fledgling career.
To this day this performance serves as a reminder that, while he may not be fondly remembered by all, he was capable of individual brilliance that very few — if any — others were at that time.