Some people think of Robbie Fowler as one of the most natural goal scorers to ever touch a football. Specific sections of the football public, particularly in one half of Merseyside, think of him in even higher terms. To Liverpool supporters he was simply referred to as “God.” That maybe a slightly weighty name tag to place on the shoulders of a mere human being, but there is no question that Robbie Fowler was something special.
A local lad, Robbie Fowler was a product of the Liverpool youth academy, and a member of the England under 18 team that won the 1993 European Championship. But, it was as a cheeky faced 18 year old that Fowler really began to come to prominence. In the second round tie of a League Cup fixture with Fulham the youngster scored all five goals in a 5-0 victory. In only his fifth game as a senior player he scored his first hat-trick, against Southampton. During his first 13 games for the reds he scored a remarkable 12 goals, going on to finish his debut season as the clubs top scorer (in all competitions) with 18 goals.
In 1994-95 Fowler had cemented his place as Liverpool’s leading striker, whilst still in his teens. Against Arsenal that season he scored the Premierships fastest ever hat-tirck. It took him only 4 minutes and 33 seconds and is a record that he can still boast today. His goal scoring exploits became truly phenomenal. For three consecutive seasons the Scouser scored over 30 goals a season, a feat that no one has matched since. Not even in Spain, Italy or Germany’s top flight divisions.
What makes his potency more astonishing was the variety of ways he could score. Whether in or outside the box, dead centre or at an unthinkable angle, with bleached blonde or natural black hair, Fowler could always find the net. During the infamous ‘Spice Boy’s’ era, of the mid 90’s, Stan Collymore described Fowler as the best player that he ever played with.
Injury, and the emergence of Michael Owen, slowed down his sublime progress. In 2000-2001 Fowler saw his most successful period in aLiverpoolshirt. He only scored 17 goals that season but helped secure Liverpool a treble.
Away from the art of goal scoring his antics also became legendary. He dated Spice Girl Emma Bunton, and in a game against Everton celebrated a goal by hovering up a line marking like it was cocaine. During the same season he also got in trouble for waving his bottom in a taunt at “rent boy” Greame Le Saux. The other side of his character blossomed in a match against Arsenal when Liverpool was awarded a penalty. It was judged that Seaman had brought Fowler down in the box. Fowler honestly appealed against the decision with the referee, and debatably attempted to miss the resulting penalty, only for Seaman to fumble and McAteer to hit in the rebound. It won Fowler a FIFA Fair play Award.
His goal scoring knack continued with moves to Leeds United and Manchester City, although not to the same degree. Over a career spanning 9 different clubs Fowler has totalled 252 goals in 589 appearances. His only regrets must be not accumulating the type of silverware that his goal scoring deserved and the failure to replicate his prolific domestic form for the national team. That aside Fowler is an absolute goal scoring legend, a master of his art… and if Liverpool fans really want to call him it, a “God.”
image: © Ben Sutherland