When England's 2-3 defeat to Croatia sent them spinning out of the Euro 2008 qualifiers, it had a seismic effect on the national game, with the knock-on effect costing the British economy an estimated GBP 1.5 billion. That November night, many believed that with the scores locked at 2-2, England were through and that playing Owen Hargreaves in a holding role would ensure England's qualification. Therefore, it could be said that the failure to play Hargreaves set England's cause back years. So who exactly is Owen Hargreaves and why is he so fundamental to English football?No player has had a career quite like his. Born in Calgary, Canada, the son of a former Bolton player, he joined the Bayern Munich youth system at the age of 16. Playing for one of the most powerful teams in the world he won a Champions League medal in his debut season - only the second Englishman ever to win such an honour with a foreign team. The youngster was soon to establish himself as one of the finest talents in the Bundesliga, making history by becoming the first English player to represent his country without previously playing domestically.The most overlooked player of the so called 'Golden Generation', Hargreaves received little recognition from a catatonic press or public for his penetrating verve and unstinting performances in an England shirt. All of that changed when his magnificent displays in the 2006 World Cup won him the England Player of the Year Award. In the summer of 2007, Sir Alex Ferguson signed Hargreaves for Manchester United for 25 million Euros. It was not only a statement of intent by the new champions, but proof that the young midfielder had now arrived at the very top of his profession.Owen's journey from the foothills of Calgary to the Theatre of Dreams, via the crucible of Munich, is a 21st century fairy tale. Reserved, affable and highly articulate, Owen now has a global presence. His epic story is in keeping with the modern history of the game: spanning continents and chronicling the rise of the holding midfield in 21st century football.