Owen started his career with Manchester City, with whom he turned professional in 1975 and made his debut aged 17, against Wolves in March 1976. After winning the League Cup earlier in the year, in October 1976 Owen scored his first goal, against West Ham.
In 1979 Owen was sold, as part of City manager Malcolm Allison's clear-out, to West Bromwich Albion for £450,000*, despite being a strong fans' favourite. At WBA, he was a regular, and although a midfielder, was awarded the number 10 shirt usually reserved for a striker, and he was also the club's first choice penalty-taker.
He suffered two broken ankles and meningitis in the 1984–85 season, and the following year, 1985–86, lost his place in the side due to his injuries. West Bromwich were relegated, and Owen joined Panionios in Greece for 1986–87. For the 1987–88 season he returned to England for year with Sheffield Wednesday. He ended his career in season 1988–89 with APOEL, Cyprus. Before going to Cyprus, he also played two games for Hammarby IF, Sweden in 1988. It was two away games against Malmö FF and Örgryte IS for a total of 157 minutes.
Currently, Owen works as a journalist in Manchester, providing opinion on his beloved Manchester City in the Manchester Evening News and on local radio station, Century FM. He also has an art dealership, "Gary Owen Fine Art".
(*) According to some sources, the fee was £550,000.