The story of this legendary striker features so many goals, so many memories, so many highlights, controversies, awards and records it would be an understatement to describe it as a ‘colourful’ career!
From the memorable goal against Villa in the FA Cup semi final in 1996; the Brann Bergen training ground strike; putting Gary Neville on his backside then embarassing Schmeichel at his near past in Cantona’s return at Old Trafford; the goals in the two 4-3 thrillers against Newcastle; the Birmingham and Alaves Final goals in the treble cup year; his smashing volley at Leicester in 2001 before he was sold by Houllier; the five goals against Fulham on his home debut; the Merseyside derby winner in front of the Kop and the faster ever Premiership hat trick against Arsenal in 1994.
The player who scored 100 goals for the club faster than the great Ian Rush; the player who won the PFA Player of the Year in 1995 and 1996; the player who finished top scorer in his first four seasons – scoring 18 in his first year and over 30 in the following three until injuries hit.
The same player who, in 1997, took a fine after showing his support for the Liverpool Dockers with a message on his t-shirt, and then won a UEFA Fair Play award after admitting that he had not been fouled by David Seaman at Highbury after a penalty had been given.
The man who left in 2001 but said in his autobiography he felt there was “unfinished business” at Liverpool, then returned in 2006 and proclaimed he “felt like a kid waking up on Christmas morning”.
Ladies and gentlemen, we give you Mr. Robbie Fowler.
Fowler made his debut against Fulham at Craven Cottage on 22 September 1993, he scored once but scored five in the return leg at Anfield two weeks later!
The goals continued to flow with a hat trick in fifth League appearance against Southampton, 18 goals in his first season, 30 in all three seasons there after, and the quickest ever Premiership hat trick against Arsenal in 1995.
1995 saw Fowler get his first taste of silverware, but it was his best friend Steve McManaman who took the plaudits with a virtuoso display, scoring both goals in what was later hailed the ‘McManaman Final’.
England honours soon followed with his debut against Bulgaria on 27th March 1996. There was a strong Liverpool contingent with the national side as Fowler lined up alongside Jamie Redknapp, Rob Jones, Mark Wright and McManaman.
The first 4-3 thriller against Newcastle in 1996 saw Fowler and Stan Collymore linking up to great effect – a match which was voted the Premiership game of the decade.
Defeat in the FA Cup Final in 1996 was hard to take, coming against bitter rivals Man United at Wembley.
Roy Evans’ team of good looking players and attractive attacking football were labelled ‘Spice Boys’ by the media – with girl band the Spice Girls hitting the English pop scene in 96.
The goals continued to flow for Fowler and he celebrated scoring on the opening day of the 96-97 season at Middlesbrough.
The home match against Boro that same season saw Robbie strike four goals to pass his 100th goal for the club and beat Ian Rush’s record.
But title hopes faded with errors from David James in crucial fixtures – and in Europe where PSG’s 3-0 win in the semi final first leg proved too much to overcome at Anfield in the return leg.
Fowler’s downturn in fortunes began in 1998, after a knee ligament injury kept him out of action for half the season and caused him to miss the World Cup. This also coincided with the rise of Michael Owen who established himself in Fowler’s absence.
Controversy often surrounded Fowler but he dealt with it in his own way with this celebration in the Merseyside derby in 1999.
The League Cup again proved fruitful for Fowler in 2001 as he scored a great volley against Birmingham and won the man of the match award as Liverpool won on penalties in Cardiff.
With the FA Cup won days earlier it was Dortmund and the UEFA Cup Final where one of Fowler’s greatest moments arrived, coming on as sub to score a great goal with his right foot into the bottom corner as Liverpool won 5-4 on a golden goal in extra time.
Fowler’s overhead goal against Charlton on the final day secures Champions League football for the following season as the Reds finish fourth and win three trophies.
With Emile Heskey and Owen seemingly Houllier’s favoured partnership Fowler is often left out by the boss. In 2001 he scored a hat trick against Leicester but was dropped for the following league game. His last appearance in his first period at Liverpool was against Sunderland when he was substituted at half-time.
In January 2006 on transfer deadline day Rafa Benitez re-signs Fowler from Man City on a free transfer. He celebrates his 31st birthday scoring against Bolton – one of his five goals in his return season.
On May 13th 2007 Fowler said goodbye to the Liverpool fans after their final game of the season against Charlton. But could there yet be one final twist in the Fowler story in Athens on Mary 23rd…?