Jamie Redknapp says that Michael Owen will go down in history as one of the greatest England forwards of all time.
Owen, currently at Stoke, will retire from football at the end of this season bringing to an end a career in which he scored 40 times in 89 appearances for his country.
That haul leaves him fourth on England's all-time scorers list behind Bobby Charlton, Gary Lineker and Jimmy Greaves, and the Football Association has already said it will consider offering Owen an ambassadorial role.
After signing for Liverpool at the age of 17, Owen scored against Wimbledon on his first-team debut in May 1997 and Redknapp, who played in that match, told Sky Sports News that he knew his team-mate was destined for greatness.
"Michael had absolute blistering pace," he reflected. "He could catch pigeons and run away from people like they weren't there - and I mean even the quickest defenders.
"He was a great player. No-one was blessed with that pace that Michael had and it was a real pleasure to play with him. He was a credit to the game. My memories of Michael will be of one of the great forwards that England have ever produced.
"From the start you knew that you were in the presence of someone very, very special. He had pace to burn. He was a dream to play with because he used to make bad balls look good.
"When he started to join in with the first-team at 15 or 16, you knew that he was going to take a short-cut into the first team and that he was going to play for England and go right to the top, and that's exactly what he did.
"He had a fantastic career - but unfortunately hamstring injuries just stopped him from maybe getting those 120 caps and breaking all of the England records that he would have done if he hadn't had had the injuries that he did."
Owen, 33, announced himself on the global stage at the age of 18 when he scored a fine individual goal against Argentina at the 1998 World Cup.
But after moving to Real Madrid in 2004 he failed to replicate the form that he showed at Liverpool, for whom he scored 179 goals in 306 appearances, as a succession of injuries hampered his progress.
"Michael was so quick - he was so much quicker than everybody else - that injuries were slightly different for him. When we used to do sprinting in training, he used to be two or three yards ahead of everybody else," said Redknapp.
"But he picked up lots of hamstring injuries and that subsequently stopped him. When he lost that extra yard that he had on everyone else it made him a mere mortal, so he had to rely on a touch and a shot in the box rather than running away from people.
"So it became a bit more difficult for Michael than most because he lost that bit of pace that he had. But rather than think about the injuries, we should celebrate what he did.
"I remember him in the World Cup because he was absolutely incredible. He also scored many great goals for Liverpool, Real Madrid and Manchester United - and obviously for his country too."
Check out what Graeme Souness, John Aldridge, Jason McAteer, Sir Trevor Brooking and David Fairclough have to say about Owen's decision to retire by clicking here.
Is Michael Owen right to retire at the end of the season?