No doubt a-boot it

ERIC FRANCIS -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 7:34 AM ET

One stands on golf's biggest stage, taking aim at the sport's fourth major, while the other is a press conference away from standing on top of the world.

Stephen Ames and Owen Hargreaves -- two Calgary athletes whose rise to prominence has sparked debate over which local's accomplishments are more impressive: The 42-year-old Trinidad native, who has won two PGA tour events despite living in wintery climes, or the mop-topped 25-year-old, who became one of England's top soccer players despite spending his first 16 years on Calgary's frozen fields.

With all due respect to Ames' 13th-ranked earnings this year ($2.3 million), the debate will be laid to rest when Hargreaves signs with Manchester United -- the New York Yankees of soccer.

Reports yesterday indicated the English super club is on the brink of getting its man, as it almost always does.

Officials from Manchester United and Bayern Munich are scheduled to meet Sunday to determine the structure of the transfer fee, reported to be 17 million pounds ($36 million Cdn), but sources say the deal is imminent and Hargreaves has already approved the terms of a new five-year contract.

The signing is expected to be made official within days.

The simple notion Man U manager Sir Alex Ferguson had summoned the midfielder, who attended Lord Beaverbrook high school, puts him in an echelon no Canadian soccer player has dared dream.

Ferguson is banking on Hargreaves and Michael Carrick, recently signed from Tottenham Hotspur, to transform the team's midfield.

Tottenham and Arsenal also were apparently keen on the Calgary kid, which made the timing right for Hargreaves to demand a move from the German club that brought him overseas to mould his skills.

"They don't want him to leave," Hargreaves' agent Roman Grill said of Bayern Munich, "but on the other hand, the player wants to talk. He wants to tell the club how he sees his future."

And his future is undoubtedly in Manchester.

While the quiet Calgarian had entered the recent World Cup appreciated solely by his British-born father and English coach Sven-Goran Eriksson, he emerged from the Three Lions' quarter-final loss one of the brightest lights on the Isle.

Named man of the match and the only player to score in England's tourney-ending penalty shootout against Portugal, Hargreaves has since been voted the team's top player at the 32-team spectacle.

Touted as the future of English international soccer by incoming coach Steve McClaren, Hargreaves responded by being man of the match again Wednesday in a friendly against Greece, starting as a defensive midfielder and controlling the game in a 4-0 win.

And now he fulfills a dream by heading to Man U.

It doesn't get any bigger.

Suffice it to say, if Man U wants you to wear its strip, you have arrived.

Factor in Hargreaves' age, almost three dozen international caps, a Champions League title and four Bundesliga titles and it's clear he's now amongst the very elite the world's most popular game has to offer.

Perhaps what's most impressive about Hargreaves is the former European under-21 player of the year has made his way to the hearts of British fans and officials with little more than skill and heart.

He's the only man ever to play for England without having played or been born there, meaning he had no political backing whatsoever.

The only way Ames could come close to approaching Hargreaves' accomplishments would be by winning a major or two, like this weekend's PGA Championship.

Otherwise, Hargreaves is on his way to becoming the greatest pro athlete Calgary has ever produced.

Eat your Hart out, Bret.


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