Michael Owen trains in Madrid

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> England striker Michael Owen took part in his first public training session with his new club Real Madrid on Thursday.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:08 IST
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Blue skies and warm temperatures greeted the players of Spanish Giants Real Madrid as they got together at their Las Rozas training ground for a public training session on Thursday. This event has become something of a ritual in recent years, as the club are keen to show off their new acquisitions ahead of the new domestic and Champions League season. Every year Real - perhaps the club with the biggest purchasing power in world football - go out and find a spectacular new player to boost their squad and their marketing revenue for another season. This year is no different, but surprisingly for the second year in succession the new player in question is an Englishman. In 2003 it was David Beckham whom Real bought from Manchester United for a fee estimated to be in the region of US$ 50-million. The market is somewhat different 12 months later and this time Real may well have got themselves one of the bargains of the year. New striker Michael Owen, a proven goalscorer with Liverpool and England, joined Madrid last week for a third of Beckham's fee, and has become the Spanish giant's new 'Galactico'. With his England captain close at hand, Owen gave around a thousand fans their first glimpse of their new striker. Beckham introduced Owen to his new team mates - only Brazilian stars Ronaldo and Roberto Carlos and Madrid's other new signing, Argentina's Walter Samuel, were absent - and guided the 24-year-old through the work out. Both players scored in England's 3-0 win over Ukraine in a on Wednesday, and chatted as they jogged around the field together with a group of players, including club captain Raul Gonzalez. They could soon be joined by another England international if some of the rumours in the media turn out to be true. Defender Jonathan Woodgate could soon join the pair at Madrid, according to locals. Golden Ball Award Real is thought to have offered another Euro15 million (US$18.6 million) for the Newcastle United centre back. Owen is the fourth winner of the annual Golden Ball Award for European soccer's top player on Madrid's roster, joining Zinedine Zidane, Luis Figo and Ronaldo. The striker could make his debut for the club when the new Spanish season kicks off on August 29th with a visit to Real Mallorca. Competition for attackers But Madrid coach Jose Antonio Camacho has indicated that the team's star players will spend more time on the bench this season. Defender Raul Bravo reiterated the point at a press conference later in the day. "Players with a name like Owen I think will be good for the team. One of the complaints about the team last year was that there were not enough substitutes. So I suppose this year there will be a lot of competition for attackers. They won't all be able to play, so there will be many substitutes." It remains to be seen how Owen will get on with the likes of Ronaldo, Raul and Morientes up front for Real. But at the age of 24 Owen already has more experience than most and will not be fazed by playing on one of the biggest footballing stages in the world. (AP)

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