Born and raised in Toxteth Fowler grew up as an Everton fan. He was chosen to play for the under 14 team in his school where he was spotted by Jim Aspinall who was a Liverpool scout. Fowler got his first taste of first team football at the end of the 1992/93 season when he was on the bench twice, once against Bolton in the FA cup and in the final league match when Liverpool beat Tottenham 6-2. He scored in his first match for Liverpool against Fulham in a 3-1 victory in the league cup on 22nd September 1993 and in the second leg against the Cottagers he scored all five in a 5-0 win. Fowler was the fifth player in Liverpool’s history to achieve that feat. Fowler scored his first hat-trick against Southampton in only his fifth league match and no less than 13 goals in his first 15 games for Liverpool. It was pretty obvious that Liverpool’s number 23 was a goal scoring phenomenon.
A broken ankle in the FA Cup against Bristol city in January side-lined Fowler until the beginning of March and he only scored three goals in his remaining 11 games but had only scored one less goal than Ian Rush, 18 in total, but Rush had played 15 more games than he had. Fowler started the 1994/95 season by scoring five goals in the first three games including an incredible Anfield hat-trick against Arsenal in only four minutes and 33 seconds which is still a Premier League record! Fowler was chosen as Young Player of the year in the Premier League and was also the only player who had featured in all of Liverpool’s games that season and the team’s top-scorer with 25 League goals in 42 matches, all in all 31 goals.
Fowler was one of the most in-form strikers in Europe and scored two memorable goals at Old Trafford in October 1995. He scored a hat-trick for the second season in a row against Arsenal in December and in the beginning of March scored two of Liverpool’s three goals in the opening 8 minutes against Aston Villa and at the end of the month Villa faced his wrath again when the Reds beat them 3-0 in the FA Cup semi-finals. He was again chosen as Young player of the Year at the end of the season becoming the second player in history to achieve that honour. He then played his first senior international game against Bulgaria in March 1996 and was included in the squad for Euro ’96.
With Ian Rush leaving the club Fowler inherited the number nine shirt at the start of the 1996/97 season. Fowler had a back injury and only scored two goals in his first eight matches. Following his return from injury he scored 17 goals in his next 15 matches including four goals against Middlesbrough in December 1996 with his second of that match being his 100th for the club in 165 games, achieved in one game less than Ian Rush. Fowler owned all the headlines in March and even UEFA’s chairman Sepp Blatter praised him when he admitted to diving in the game against Arsenal, the referee gave the penalty in that game and Fowler immediately got up and admitted that he had dived, he took the penalty and missed with Jason McAteer scoring the re-bound. However, he wasn’t in their good books for long after he was fined for wearing a t-shirt supporting the 500 dockers who worked on Albert Dock after they had been sacked and in April he was sent off in the Merseyside Derby when he clashed with David Unsworth. He scored his final goal of the season in a 2-0 victory over PSG when the Reds crashed out of Europe and was suspended for the last three games of the season.
Ligament damage in Fowler’s right knee received in July 1997 kept him out for the first six matches of the 1997/98 season. Michael Owen was now the focus of attention after getting his chance at the end of the previous season due to fowler’s ban. They played together for the first time against Aston Villa in September at Anfield. His temperament was back in question against Bolton on 1st November, he scored after 48 seconds but was sent off in the 75th minute after elbowing Per Frandsen. He had thirteen goals in 23 games when he scored his last goal of the season in January, he had gone four games without a goal when he collided with Everton goalkeeper Thomas Myhre five minutes from time resulting in torn cruciate knee ligaments which kept him out of action for the next seven months.
Roy Evans left the club in November 1998 and Gerard Houllier became manager with Phil Thompson as his assistant. The first game under new management was against Leeds with Fowler scoring the only goal in a 3-1 defeat at Anfield. In the second match against Villa, Fowler shone by scoring a hat-trick that signalled his intentions. Fowler struggled with consistency and had to wait seven matches before netting his next goal but in the next match against Southampton he scored his second hat-trick under Houllier and in January he signed a new five-year contract with the Reds. On 3rd April, Fowler ‘snorted’ the line after scoring the first of his two goals in the 3-2 victory over Everton, he did this in response to the ‘smackhead’ taunts he had endured at Goodison in the previous October. He received a four-match ban.
Fowler scored in the first game of the 1999/00 season against Sheffield Wednesday as well as one of the goals of the season on 28th August, a pile driver from 30 yards in off the bar at Anfield. Fowler only lasted an hour in the game against Everton, he’d said before the match he had felt pain in his ankle but wanted to try and play through it, he ended up needing an operation and was expected to be out for three months. He made three substitute appearances in December and scored his third goal of the season against Wimbledon, he had now scored 150 Liverpool goals with 95 coming from his left foot, 30 with his right and 25 headers. 127 of them goals where from inside the box with 11 being penalties and 23 goals being outside of the area. He again felt pain in his ankle and had to undergo another operation meaning he couldn’t play for another four months making his return in the Merseyside Derby on 21st April.
Fowler was carried off in a pre-season match against Glentoran following a collision with goalkeeper meaning he was again sidelined for another six weeks. There were a lot of rumours that Liverpool were looking to offload the striker and had accepted a £12 million bid from Chelsea but Fowler refused to leave. He made the headlines but for all the right reasons this time after scoring a hat-trick against Stoke in the League Cup meaning he had now scored 25 goals in 29 matches in that competition. Fowler was the star of the show after scoring a sensational goal against Birmingham in the League cup final in February leading to a penalty shoot-out victory for the Reds.
During the Reds successful treble season Fowler couldn’t really hold down a place in the starting XI but still proved a valuable player. One crucial match was left against Charlton and Fowler proved he was still a great player by scoring two goals that clinched second place for Liverpool meaning it was their best ever Premiership finish and a place in the Champions league. The striker got in trouble with assistant manager Phil Thompson at Melwood in August 2002 meaning he was dropped from the first-team, the striker later apologised and was re-called to the first team squad and scored his first goal of the season against Haka in the second leg of the Champions League qualifier. He had scored four goals in ten starts and seven substitute appearances that season, it was announced in November that the Reds had agreed to sell the striker to Leeds for a fee worth £11.75 million.
After spending four years at Leeds Fowler did the unthinkable and returned to Liverpool. He scored 14 goals in 33 appearances over a 14-month period at Leeds before moving to Manchester City where he stayed for three years scoring 27 goals in 92 matches. He made his return as a substitute for Peter Crouch in a home game against Birmingham City five days after re-signing, he couldn’t add to the score-line but did have an acrobatic overhead-kick disallowed. He managed to score five goals in the remained of the season which ensured him another year’s contract under Rafa Benitez. He scored 7 goals in his final season at Anfield taking his total up to 183 goals in 369 games for the Reds. The striker and his family proudly walked around the pitch at the end of the final league game of 2006/07 allowing him to say a proper goodbye to the Anfield faithful.
He signed for Championship side Cardiff city but his injury jinx led to him not being featured in the first team squad. He signed a three-month deal with Paul Ince’s Blackburn before the 2008/09 season, but only made three starts and three substitute appearances without scoring a goal. He then signed a two-year deal with Australian side North Queensland Fury in February 2009. After just one season, the striker was released due to the club being financially unstable, he signed for Western Australia club Perth Glory who announced Fowler as their ‘foreign marquee player’ meaning his wages would be excluded from the club’s salary cap.
He made an unexpected move from Australia to Thailand in 2011 signing for Thailand Muang Thong United. He was made caretaker coach for the club but in early 2012 he quit and moved back to Liverpool. However, before this he was one of the few big-name stars sold at an auction, he went for £338,000 to Kolkata but wasn’t sure if he would play for the side. He trained with Blackpool towards the end of the 2011/12 season with manager Ian Holloway saying he was keen on signing the striker but they couldn’t agree personal terms and Fowler ended up retiring. Fowler is now a part of the club’s entourage and travels around the world with fellow past players talking about Liverpool.
Robbie Fowler made 369 appearances for the Reds and scored a total of 183 goals in all competitions. Fans still love him and hail him as ‘God’ and he will forever be regarded as a Liverpool legend.
Article by Lauren Black – @LaurenBlack9
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