Robbie Fowler: Football Legend
Very few footballers have made the impact on fans throughout the planet as Robbie Fowler has over the past two decades. The Liverpool legend dubbed “god” by man Reds fans. In this the first of a series of periodic articles on the Kartik Report, we look back at the career of Robbie Fowler.
The Merseyside native allegedly supported Everton FC as a youngster. But he is through and through associated with Everton’s local rival, Liverpool FC.
Fowler joined Liverpool shortly after the Reds won their most recent top flight title in England. Fowler signed on his 17th birthday, but was already a regular by the time he was 19, and a superstar by the time he was twenty. Watching Fowler a world away in the United States, he had already emerged thanks to the large Liverpool supporters based on this side of the pond as one of the biggest names in Football.
In 1995, Fowler aged 20, scored a hat trick in less than five minutes against Arsenal. He also led Liverpool at a league cup victory and won the PFA Young Player of the Year Award. The next season, fowler would win the award again and for the second consecutive season score more than thirty goals.
At the time Fowler was living large as part of the “Spice Boys” along with Stan Collymore, David James and Steve McManaman. These Liverpool stars were often times seen out on the town throughout Merseyside.
Fowler has by this time worked his way into the England squad getting a call up for the Euro 96 Tournament, after scoring twice in the late season matchup with Liverpool legend Kevin Keagan’s Newcastle United side. That game, more than anything else perhaps cost Keagan a league title and ironically handed the title to Liverpool’s hated rival, Manchester United.
After the Euros however, injuries began to mar Fowler’s career. A new youngster emerged at Liverpool, Michael Owen, and he soon took Fowler’s place in the Liverpool side and with England. Owen’s wonder goal against Argentina in the 1998 World Cup, a match England lost largely because of official incompetence, was perhaps the best goal of the World Cup that summer.
Fowler’s next few years were controversial. The disgraceful incident with Grahame LeSaux is remembered by Chelsea fans as the ultimate sign of disrespect and immaturity. Perhaps, it was this that stimulated Fowler’s amazing 2000-01 season when Liverpool won the Treble, finding European glory in Dortmund in which Fowler scored.
Emile Heskey, still today a regular for England however, had been signed by Liverpool from Leicester City, which dropped Fowler, the skipper of the Reds from the starting XI. Fowler was then transferred to David O’Leary’s ambitious Leeds United side.
Fowler had a decent strike rate in just over one injury plagued year with the club, but featuring only 31 times thanks to injury forced the financially strapped club to make a move. Fowler’s form had been good enough the second half of the 2001-02 season to make the England squad for the Korea/Japan World Cup. But Fowler never seemed to really fit in at Leeds.
Fowler was transferred to Manchester City were he spent several injury plagued seasons. Fowler’s time at City was a mixed bag: he often times drifted in and out of games and appeared to have little interest in football. Other times, he’d be deadly, especially when City faced local rivals Manchester United.
Fowler scored three times for City against United while with the club, but his most famous goal for City was the last of his twenty for the club. In the January 2006 derby match, Fowler finished a chance started by Darius Vassell and ran over to the United supporters flashing five fingers for Liverpool’s European Cup/Champions League triumphs.
Weeks later, Fowler would be home again in Liverpool. His second stint with the Reds made him the all time leading scorer in the glorious history of the club, and saw him score his first ever Champions League group stage goals as Liverpool reached the finals in Athens. Liverpool lost, and Fowler’s Red career ended with 191 goals.
Since, Fowler has played for Cardiff City, Blackburn and now in the Australian League with the side North Queensland Fury (don’t ask me to discuss Fowler’s performance there as I have never watched an Australian domestic league match). My hope that Fowler would some day come to play in the United States seems to have been unfulfilled. But should Fowler ever play stateside, he’d be welcomed by many as a conquering hero.