Written by: James McHale @jamesmchale2607
Liverpool hero Robbie Fowler turns 44 today and I’m going to give you the lowdown on why the Toxteth born lad is one of Liverpool’s most revered icons and how he reached the very top.
Born and raised in Toxteth, one of Merseyside’s most deprived areas, Fowler was actually a boyhood Everton fan and was apparently as bitter as they come, hating Ian Rush and all of the success his goals brought to Everton’s noisy neighbours. The diminutive striker wasn’t picked up until a little later than most with Fowler being spotted by former Liverpool scout Jim Aspinall whilst playing for his school’s under-14 side. “He knew when and where to put the ball away, and run into space… he had such a lovely touch on the ball,” Aspinall said when speaking about the young Fowler.
Signing his first professional contract with the club on his 17th birthday, this moment would prove to be the catalyst that would push Fowler into becoming a Liverpool legend and one of the club’s most clinical poachers. Fowler had to wait a little while to make his debut for the club with then manager Graeme Souness waiting over a year to throw the youngster into action.
Fowler’s much anticipated debut for Liverpool came during the club’s 3-1 League Cup win against Fulham, coming off the bench late and also grabbing himself a goal. After announcing himself to the Liverpool fans after his impressive debut, Fowler would go on to score 12 goals in his first 13 Liverpool games – this included 5 against Fulham in the second leg of the League Cup fixture and a hat-trick against Southampton in the league.
The following season saw the youngster appear in every single fixture in all competitions with Fowler making 57 appearances, helping Liverpool to win the League Cup. A total of 31 goals in his second season of senior football helped him build on his incredible first season, Fowler finished his debut season with 18 goals in 34 appearances, and by the end of that second season he had firmly established himself as an integral part of the team despite being just 20 years old.
That 94/95 season also saw the wonder-kid score the Premier League’s fastest ever hat-trick, putting 3 past Arsenal in just 4 minutes and 33 seconds, a record that would only be beaten 21 years later by a little-known Southampton winger called Sadio Mane.
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The following 2 seasons would see Fowler net 36 goals and 31 goals respectively, establishing himself as a superstar at Anfield and letting the country know that he was one of the best around. It’s a wonder that such form didn’t attract the global heavyweights as such form nowadays, especially from such a young player, would certainly whip the media up into a frenzy and he would be linked with every team under the sun.
His tally of 30 or more goals in 3 successive seasons proved to be record breaking too with no other player in the Premier League scoring that amount in their first 3 full seasons, a record that hasn’t been beaten in La Liga, Serie A, and the Bundesliga as well.
Injuries eventually caught up with the striker and a serious knee injury kept Fowler out large parts of the 97/98 season, though he did still manage to bag himself 13 goals in 28 appearances. An impressive 18 goals in 35 goals in 98/99 didn’t get Fowler back into the headlines but it did show that he still had that killer instinct, his all-round play wasn’t quite what it was and it was clear that such a serious injury had stunted his development.
Fowlers ‘decline’ was softened by the emergence of another wonder-kid, coming in the form of Michael Owen, and although he is despised by much of the fanbase today, Owen was a superstar during his youth and his goals certainly eased the burden on Fowler’s shoulders.
Houllier’s preferred striker duo of Owen and Heskey signalled the end of Fowler’s time at Liverpool with the Toxteth born forward finding goals harder and harder to come by and in November 2001 he was sold to Leeds United for £11m. Fowler had a decent time at Leeds, though un-prolific, before a move to Manchester City came around, though again Fowler struggled to excel in that system too.
A return to Liverpool, in 2006 wasn’t spectacular but the age-ing striker did manage to score 12 times in 39 appearances and after leaving rather abruptly previously, his second exit gave the fans the opportunity to bid God a thoroughly deserved farewell. Fowler was handed the armband against Charlton before a substitution 2 minutes from time allowed him to receive a standing ovation with the supporters still chanting his name long after he had left the pitch.
Fowler’s form for Liverpool, especially during his early years, isn’t remembered as fondly as it perhaps should be but he is a legend at Liverpool and his passion for the club shines through, even though he left for good 12 years ago. A total of 183 goals in 369 competitive appearances shows just show good he was and whilst he did decline during the latter stages of his Anfield career, his contributions to the club both on and off the pitch should never be forgotten.
Article by James McHale @jamesmchale2607