to the Kop
By Chris Bascombe - Liverpool Echo
Robbie Fowler today thanked The Kop for making his second spell at
Anfield even more memorable than his first, but vowed: “I haven’t
finished at Liverpool yet.”
The striker has been told his contract won’t be renewed at the end of
the season, which means his appearance at Anfield on Sunday will be his
last in a red shirt.
Rafa Benitez has promised Fowler a start in the game, and it’s an
opportunity he fully intends making the most of.
“Obviously it will be an emotional day for me, but I want everyone to
know I’m still completely focused on what I see as two very important
games,” said Fowler.
“First I want to play well and win against Charlton to help us finish in
third, and then there’s preparing for and hopefully playing a part in
the Champions League final.
“ I’ll think about everything else after that because I don’t want
anything to interfere with such an important match.
“ I also want people to know I’ve not even thought about the future
beyond Liverpool. The manager explained the situation to me this week
and it wasn’t a big surprise, to be honest.
“But everyone knows I’ve treated every game back at Liverpool in exactly
the same way and given all I could for the team, and that’s going to be
the case in the last two games as well.”
However, Fowler admits the chance to say goodbye to the supporters will
be appreciated after a less than satisfactory ‘farewell’ performance in
“At least this time I will get a chance to say goodbye properly because
I was gutted the way it happened last time,” he said.
“Since I’ve been back, the support I’ve had from the fans has been
tremendous. It’s been even better than it was first time around.
“Maybe you appreciate it even more when you’ve been away and missed it
so much, but I’ll never forget the reception they gave me and will
always be thankful for it. I just hope I can finish with a few goals and
a Champions League win.
“That would be the perfect way to end the season.”
Manager Benitez thanked Fowler for his contribution over the last 18
months and predicted he’d bow out in familiar fashion.
“I hope Robbie can score a goal in front of The Kop. That would be a
good way for him to say goodbye to the supporters,” he said.
“I want to say thank you to Robbie. He will play on Sunday and it’s good
the fans will have a chance to see him at Anfield before he leaves us.
“We had a good meeting and he understood the situation. He’s been a good
signing for us and, of course, there are still two games left so his
time at Liverpool is not over yet.
“I know how much he means to the club and the fans so it will be a
special day for him on Sunday.”
Many fans are hoping to galvanise support for a ‘Fowler Day’ of
celebrations at Anfield on Sunday in tribute to the number nine.
are set to say farewell
to a genuine Anfield legend
By Chris Bascombe - Liverpool Echo
To say farewell to Liverpool once was painful. To have the
opportunity to do so for a second time was more than Robbie Fowler could
have wished for 18 months ago.
The striking legend will say goodbye to he Kop on Sunday after bringing
the most romantic cameo in the history of the club to an end.
Where his last departure in 2001 was swift to the point of indecency,
this time he’ll have an opportunity to savour the moment and soak up the
applause of his adoring public.
There may yet be a final twist in the tale of his emotional return if
his services are required in Athens, but he now knows he’ll wear the
Liverpool number nine jersey at Anfield for the last time.
Fowler was informed of Rafa Benitez’s decision not to renew his contract
on Wednesday afternoon.
The Liverpool manager had been pondering whether to make the decision
public ahead of the final home game of the season, uncertain of how fans
will react to the departure of the local hero.
In fact, Fowler’s loyal supporters will appreciate the contrast to six
years ago when his ‘last’ game against Sunderland ended with the
ignominy of a half-time substitution, after which he was condemned to a
sale to Leeds.
With many fans organising an unofficial themed day of Fowler
appreciation on Sunday, their knowledge the timing and staging of such
events is wholly appropriate will add to the occasion.
Naturally, the forward will be devastated not to be a Liverpool striker
beyond this year, but realistically the move from Benitez was no
The 32-year-old has had to settle for fourth choice status during this
campaign, and with Ukranian Andriy Voronin signed on a pre-contract last
January, and more strikers sure to follow, the long term future of one
of the most prolific goalscorers in English history has looked decidedly
insecure for some time.
He’ll be remembered not as the bit-part player who has deputised for
those who, at his peak, he’d have embarrassed with his swagger and
finishing skills, but as a player who enlightened some otherwise dark
years in the early to late 1990s.
From the minute he exploded into first team action against Fulham in the
1993 League Cup, Fowler was somehow able to ignite passions in the Kop
many star players, even those from Merseyside, fail to.
Perhaps it’s because on and off the pitch, he’s a natural.
Scousers have a sixth sense when it comes to differentiating frauds from
the real thing, and the teenager who celebrated scoring five goals on
his home debut by buying his mum a bag of chips on the way home needed
no public relations gimmicks to prove his credentials.
Graeme Souness’ dreadful side became worth watching overnight, and but
for an untimely broken leg during his first full season, Fowler would
probably have saved his first boss from the sack.
His best football was played under Roy Evans, when the burst of pace and
audacious strikes from every angle and any distance saw him score a
staggering 98 goals in just 154 games over three seasons, passing the 30
goal mark in each.
Sadly, by the time Gerard Houllier took over sole control in 1999, a
cruciate knee injury had taken its toll and the next two years was a
never ending battle with niggles on and off the park.
Houllier enjoyed a schizophrenic relationship with Fowler, heaping the
ultimate praise upon him by making him joint captain, but privately
harbouring doubts about his long term future.
Fowler's notorious public support of Liverpool’s sacked dockers,
incurring a heavy fine from UEFA, secured his iconic status.
His Marcel Marceau period, synonymous with derby celebrations and Graeme
Le Saux, provoked an outrage which, in retrospect, borders on the
Fowler wasn’t laughing at the time, though, especially when he was
banned and received a heavier FA fine than Eric Cantona suffered for
karate kicking a passer-by.
Fans loved him for his ingenuity, having done little more than mime his
way into bad boy status. His then manager never understood the rapport.
Matters came to a head with several rows until the striker was sold in
2001 for £10m, putting a brave face on his heartbreak which became ever
more distressing during each season away from Merseyside.
The overdue healing process was completed in January, 2006, when, a year
after first contemplating a move, Benitez signed Fowler from Manchester
City on a free.
It was undoubtedly the most emotional deal in Anfield history.
Fowler played his part in securing third spot, and although this season
hasn’t gone exactly to plan, no-one should underestimate his appetite
for a brilliant finish in Athens