Monday, May 14, 2007

The Day 'God' Left Anfield

Tribute To The 'Toxteth Terror'

They say all good things come to an end and that's a fact that many of us have to face.

And yesterday, the Anfield faith cheered, sang and clapped off Robbie Fowler for one last time before his impending departure from the club he loves with all his heart. Although he wasn't the score sheet yesterday to give his followers something more to cheer about, his legacy will live on and he will still be the 'God' of Anfield in everyone's heart.

Hailed from a notorious council estate of Toxteth, in Liverpool, he was a frail looking boy that no many will look upon as a future Liverpool legend in the making back then. But he was blessed with such raw talents that is a scarcity in the modern game.

What he didn't have, the built and the speed, are compensated by his natural talents, his instincts and his predatory skills that made the Kopites watch in awe for years to come. His ability to be at the right place at the right time was essentially his best asset and blessed with a cultured left foot and a useful right.

Grown in stature not literally, but in the hearts of men, the player that has captivated almost 2 generations of Liverpool fans had a rather roller-coaster like career. Unlike many football stars, he was never the darling of the media and has been constantly linked with rumours that tarnished his reputations and all those years of 'Spice Boys' culture in Liverpool back in the late 90s certainly didn't help.

He was then ousted by Gerard Houllier and sold to Leeds United in 2001. In his autobiography, he was adamant that the French manager wasn't in favour of him and have been trying to flog him all the while despite constantly delivering the goods.

He left, without a proper sending off from the Anfield crowd. He wept as he departs the club that he loves and the club that loves him. He was substituted at half time, down the tunnel and that was the last time his followers saw him.

Winding the time forward to 2007 and this time round, he was given a proper and grand sending off one last time before pursuing his career elsewhere after manager, Rafa Benitez, decides it's about time the striker moves on.

It was set up like a testimonial match for the beloved son of Anfield, even decorated with the captain's armband for the day and for once, Gerrard stepped out of the limelight.

It all happened, of course, with Benitez's smart dealing back in the winter of 2006. He pulled of perhaps, some called it a 'masterstroke' by signing Fowler back after he was stranded out in the football oblivion. Rafa reached his hand out for the second coming of Fowler and saved him from potentially fizzling out at Man City.

Knowing that it is his last ever appearance at Anfield in the red shirt, Fowler didn't give up although his limbs suggested otherwise. Injury plagued his career and at 32, he was a shadow of his former self yet it didn't detract his cult like followers from singing his name.

It was a farewell party for Fowler but the penalty incident sums up all about Fowler's illustrious career. Seconds after being taken off, Liverpool were awarded a penalty to level the game up. He was supposed to take the spot kick but even God can't do anything about it.

It was a career of missed chances, bad timings and bad luck. At the age of 18, he broke into the Liverpool squad, playing alongside the likes of John Barnes and Ian Rush. He scored an amazing 5 goals in his full debut for Liverpool and also broke the record of the fastest ever hat trick in Premiership history.

Yet the timing of his rise to fame coincided with those of Alan Shearer, Teddy Sherringham and Andy Cole. Adding to that, he didn't get on the good books of the media and is constantly targeted and his reputation went up the smokes.

His infamous goal line sniffing act is still one of the most controversial moments in perhaps, football's history and that certainly didn't help Fowler to build a healthy reputation. He was often mistaken as someone who was into drugs and party all night long.

But whatever happened has happened and we are proud to send him off with our best wishes after that farce back in 2001 when we didn't even get to see him off. It might have disappointed a few as to how he didn't manage to score against Charlton yesterday but his legacy will live on and he has already done enough to capture the people's hearts.

His name will always be encapsulated in the hearts of the supporters and best of wishes, Robbie. You'll never walk alone.

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