1505: Farewell to Fowler, Goodbye to God
1105: Fowler's message to the Kop
1105: Kop are set to say farewell to a genuine Anfield...






MAY 11
Fowler's message 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 2001.

“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.

MAY 11
Kop 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 surprise.

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 comical.

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 Ł10m, 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

Thor Zakariassen ©