It was August 28, 1994, and Anfield provided the backdrop as Robbie Fowler etched his name into the record books with, what was then, the fastest hat-trick in Premier League history.
A 19-year-old Fowler was just starting his second season as a regular member of Roy Evans’ Liverpool side when a formidable Arsenal outfit arrived at Anfield.
A sun laden pitch awaited the players and without knowing it those there to witness it and those watching at home on a Sunday afternoon bore witness to the birth of a Liverpool legend and God.
The performance was a worldwide announcement from Fowler that he had arrived, needing just four minutes and 33 seconds to tear apart English football’s most revered defences.
The return from a fresh-faced Fowler saw him lay claim to the division’s fastest ever hat-trick, one which stood for almost 21 years before future Liverpool winger Sadio Mane, then at Southampton, eclipsed it in May 2015, accomplishing the feat in a staggering two minutes and 56 seconds against Aston Villa.
Fowler had just one senior season under his belt when the Gunners came to town but was already highly regarded as one of English football’s brightest and most promising young players.
In 1993/94, Fowler scored 18 goals and made 34 appearances in all competitions. It was a debut campaign which saw him become only the fifth player in the club’s history to score five in a game – against Fulham in the League Cup – and one which returned his first hat-trick in just his fifth league game.
He was already a phenomenon in the making, a clinical finisher with the intelligence and left foot to match.
In Fowler’s second season he cemented his place as an ever-present for Evans, lining up alongside Ian Rush and in just the second game of the campaign, he left no doubt that it was his place to lose.
An Arsenal side which contained the disciplined defensive contingent of David Seaman, Tony Adams, Nigel Winterburn, Lee Dixon and Martin Keown made Fowler’s feat all the more impressible and extraordinary.
And the events which cement his place in Liverpool folklore and Premier League history all started when the clock ticked into its 25th minute.
It kicked off after Jamie Redknapp’s free-kick towards the area was missed by Keown, with the ball inadvertently bouncing off Rush and towards an unmarked Fowler who, without hesitation, powered the ball into the net.
His presence is causing panic and his instinctive nature to sniff out a goal came to the fore for his second just two minutes and 44 seconds later as Steve McManaman draws in Dixon on the edge of the box, allowing Fowler to peel off at the back and then cut his shot back across Seaman where it found the net off the far post.
While Arsenal looked to make attack their best form of defence, the Reds continued to expose and exploit their left-wing and one minute and 49 seconds later the ball was in the net again.
It started with John Barnes chipping over Adams and Arsenal’s back-line, with Fowler latching on to the delivery as he charged towards the penalty area.
Seamon was quick off his line and thwarted Fowler’s first attempt only for the ricochet to land near the by-line where the young Liverpool forward showed composure beyond his years to finish with his right foot from a tight angle.
Anfield was on its feet and in a state of delirium as they witnessed Fowler stamping his mark on the competition, English football and Liverpool on the first outing at Anfield without a standing Kop.
The Mirror described Fowler’s treatment of Arsenal which left them with “dazed faces of survivors of an incendiary blast,” while his manager was full of praise for his young star, saying: “Robbie has immense talent. He can be frightening.”
On August 28, 1994, Fowler showed the world and the Premier League that he meant business and he would go on to score a further 21 goals in the league that season.
His figures were that of an accomplished and experienced professional never mind a 19-year-old in his second senior season. It was undoubtedly the day he arrived at Liverpool and he never looked back.
“But people still talk to me about that day. It’s great it is still remembered after all these years.”