Liverpool have had a number of iconic players throughout the club’s history, but there’s only one man the Anfield faithful call ‘God’.
Bursting through at a time when Liverpool were in desperate need of inspiration under the management of Graeme Souness, Robbie Fowler captured the hearts of the red half of Merseyside thanks to his daring endeavour, scally demeanour and insatiable appetite for scoring goals – lots and lots of goals.
As The Guardian’s Rob Smyth once so brilliantly put it, Fowler “fused the mischief of Ferris Bueller with the swagger of Liam Gallagher”.
Neil Atkinson, presenter of The Anfield Wrap, told The Guardian in 2014: “Fowler is the moment when supporters around my age, 33, stop seeing Liverpool players as their collective dads.
“Those 80s men we grew up watching were moustachioed, certain, endlessly winning. Robbie was different. He was a roguish big brother. He’d get you into scrapes and he’d get you out of them. Less certain but so much more fun.”
We’ve looked back at 10 reasons why Fowler will always be so loved by Liverpool supporters.
After being an unused substitute twice in the 1992-93 season, an 18-year-old Fowler made his Liverpool debut the following campaign in a League Cup tie against Fulham.
And he produced a sight Liverpool fans would become accustomed to with a terrific finish to mark his maiden appearance with a goal.
There may have been around only 12,000 fans at Anfield to witness it, but in the second leg of the League Cup clash with Fulham, the teenager emphatically displayed his unique goalscoring talent.
The Reds won 5-0 that night, with Fowler bagging all five goals. Three with his left foot, one with his right and a diving header to top it all off.
How did he celebrate that night? With chips, fried rice and a curry, of course.
The moment one great Liverpool goalscorer passed the baton onto the next?
Ian Rush had equalised for the Reds after Dave Watson had put Everton ahead at Anfield. But it was the fresh-faced Fowler who came up with the winner in his first Merseyside derby.
The day Liverpool fans started to believe in God.
Arsenal’s back-four was renowned as unbreachable, yet in the space of four minutes and 33 seconds, Fowler – still only 19 years old – helped himself to a hat-trick.
“That hat-trick is one of his purest moments,” Anfield Wrap presenter Neil Atkinson said, “the thing you’d love to do if only you were good. It’s pure playground, pure Fowler.”
A brilliant goalscorer and a scorer of brilliant goals, Fowler was a striker who performed on pure instinct.
His goal against Brann Bergen in the quarter-final of the Cup Winners’ Cup is as outrageous as they come.
Hailing from the inner-city area of Liverpool, Toxteth, Fowler was never one to forget his working-class roots.
In 1997 he was fined £900 by UEFA after celebrating a goal by unveiling a t-shirt in support of 500 Liverpool dockers who had been sacked for refusing to cross a picket line. Alongside team-mate Steve McManaman, Fowler was known to have made contributions to the dockers’ fighting fund.
In a crucial game against Arsenal at Highbury, Fowler displayed an impressive honesty when trying to convince the referee to overturn a penalty he had awarded Liverpool after the forward had dived.
Fowler missed the penalty – although he admitted he was trying to score – but Jason McAteer scored the rebound. UEFA went on to give Fowler a fair play award.
After receiving plenty of stick from Everton fans including accusations of drug-taking, Fowler hit back with a brilliantly cheeky retort.
Equalising against the Toffees from the penalty spot, Fowler celebrating by pretending to snort the goal line. He was subsequently banned for two matches, but the iconic celebration is not to be sniffed at.
The emergence of Michael Owen and an acrimonious relationship with Gerard Houllier meant Fowler was no longer the Reds’ top dog in their 2000-01 treble-winning season, but he still played a major part in their success.
He scored in the semi-final of both the League and FA Cup, plus a memorable strike in the final of the League Cup as well as a goal in the UEFA Cup final.
“Going back to Liverpool, I always think to myself, when you’re a young lad and you’ve got a girlfriend, and then all of a sudden you lose her, you always want to go back to her.”
Fowler returned to his first love in 2007, and while he was no longer the same player, he still managed to extend his record for Liverpool to 183 goals in 369 games, making him the sixth-highest scorer in the club’s history.
Liverpool may have had plenty of heroes, but they’ve only had one God.