Robbie Fowler

Robert Bernard Fowler is one of the most fondly remembered players in the history of Liverpool FC. He remains the fourth-highest goalscorer in Premier League history and holds the record for the League’s fastest ever hat-trick, scored in a sensational four minutes and thirty-three seconds for Liverpool against Arsenal in 1995. He notched 183 goals in total for Liverpool, and is still referred to by the Kop faithful simply as “God”.

Throughout the mid-to-late 90s, Robbie was considered the best natural finisher in England. Even famously crusty Graeme Souness had this to say about the prodigal young striker – “He had…a unique eye for goal. He could conjure them from nothing. I would put him right up there with Ian Rush as one of the greatest poachers.”

Robbie was one of the “Spice Boys”, the generation of Liverpool players characterised by their playboy lifestyles, hard drinking and antics off the pitch. Robbie and his comedy sidekick Steve McManaman loved playing silly pranks on their team mates, and even went so far as to cut up football boots belonging to team hard man Neil ‘Razor’ Ruddock. The duo also bought a pair of racehorses and named them “Some Horse” and “Another Horse”, apparently to make the race commentator “sound daft.”

Robbie’s playful nature often got him in hot water with his manager and the press however. There was a time where Robbie faced a huge amount of taunting from Everton fans that claimed he was a drug abuser – it even got to the point where the word “Smackhead” was daubed in ten foot letters over his mother’s house. Robbie reacted to the false accusations by furiously smashing home a penalty against the Toffees then sprinting over to the touchline and pretending to snort it like it was the world’s biggest line of Bolivian marching powder. After the game, manager Gerard Houllier quickly pulled an excuse out of his bum and told the press that Robbie was simply “doing a Cameroonian grass-eating celebration he learnt from Rigobert Song.” Robbie came clean however, and was handed a four match ban along with a £60,000 fine.

Looks more like a Mongolian poo-sniffing celebration to me...
Robbie is also remembered for one of the most refreshing displays of honesty ever seen in a sport plagued with melodramatic divers and embarrassing histrionics. During a game against Arsenal in 1996, Robbie appeared to have been tripped in the box by Arsenal keeper David Seaman and was awarded a penalty. Robbie immediately protested to the ref, admitting that he hadn’t been fouled and the penalty shouldn’t stand. The referee, obviously incapable of processing the notion of a footballer not trying to cheat, awarded the penalty anyway. Robbie stroked it tamely at Seaman, who unfortunately wasn’t able to hold on to it before Liverpool’s Jason McAteer rifled it into the net. Still...the thought was there. Fowler won a UEFA Fair Play award for this display of sportsmanship.

Robbie had an unfortunate falling out with hapless Liverpool manager Gerard Houllier, who bullied writers at the Liverpool Echo into criticising him in an attempt to turn fans against their hero. Robbie left the club where he’d become a legend, and went to play for both Leeds United and Man City, before returning to Liverpool to a hero’s welcome in 2006. He also managed some successful seasons in the twilight of his career at Australian clubs North Queensland Fury and Perth Glory.

Robbie is also a shrewd businessman, and was listed in the Sunday Times Rich List as being worth around £30 million, with a property portfolio of around eighty houses. 
Certainly not just a pretty face then , eh?
By George Odling

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