Last updated : 19 January 2003 By Editor

From The Mirror:

England hero Michael Owen has gambled an astonishing £2.2million on horse racing and football.

The 23-year-old Liverpool striker has placed thousands of bets with bookmaker Victor Chandler over the last three years. He also uses an account with spread betting firm IG Index. Owen's gambling habit is so serious that he lost £26,000 in one day last year. On another occasion he threw away £10,000 after backing one of his own horses, Treble Heights.

The Sunday Mirror can also reveal that he backed Liverpool's arch-rivals Manchester United to win matches in the European Champions League and Chelsea in the Premiership.

He even gambled £800 on a horse running during last year's England match against Portugal in which he was captain. The day after the game he blew a further £15,500 in a disastrous losing sequence of 21 bets at Kempton Park and York.

Both of the £70,000-a-week star's accounts are officially held in the name of his father Terry, 50, a former Co-op salesman who now works part-time for Liverpool.

Since the Victor Chandler account was established in February 2000 nearly £2.2million has been staked, with Owen often calling the bookies four times a day. In one three-month period he placed almost 350 bets.

The footballer has enjoyed some spectacular successes including scooping £17,000. But he has lost more than he has won and the account is some £130,000 down.