Robert Bernard Fowler (born 9 April 1975) is an English football manager and former footballer who is currently the head coach of SC East Bengal in the Indian Super League.
Fowler in 2011
|Full name||Robert Bernard Fowler|
|Date of birth||9 April 1975|
|Place of birth||Toxteth, Liverpool, England|
|Height||5 ft 9 in (1.75 m)|
|East Bengal (head coach)|
|2009–2010||North Queensland Fury||26||(9)|
|2011–2012||Muangthong United (player-manager)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
As a player he was a striker in a playing career which spanned between 1993 and 2012, Fowler was known for being a natural scorer with an instinctive goal-poaching ability. Fowler is best remembered for his tenure at Liverpool and is the seventh-highest goalscorer in the history of the Premier League. He scored 183 goals in total for Liverpool, 120 of which were scored in the top tier. He earned the nickname "God" from the Anfield crowd, becoming a club legend due to his finishing. He subsequently played for Leeds United and Manchester City, before returning to Liverpool in January 2006. He relocated to Cardiff City eighteen months later. He played there for a year before transferring to Blackburn Rovers on a short-term deal. In December 2008, he departed Blackburn and forged a career in Australia with North Queensland Fury and Perth Glory. In 2011, he joined Thai side Muangthong United as a player, but later was appointed player-manager which he remained until his retirement in 2012.
He was capped for England 26 times, scoring 7 goals. Fowler was included in England's squads for Euro 1996, Euro 2000 and the 2002 World Cup. Socially aware, Fowler showed support for the Liverpool dockers' strike during a goal celebration in 1997 where he unveiled a t-shirt which incorporated the Calvin Klein "CK" into the word doCKer.
Fowler was born in Toxteth, Liverpool, and brought up in the inner city area of Liverpool. At this time he was known as Robert Ryder, his mother's surname. He lived in Toxteth at the time of the 1981 Toxteth riots, when he was six years old. As a youngster he supported Everton F.C.. He played regularly for schoolboy team Thorvald, and once scored 16 times in a 26–0 rout.
Despite growing up as an Everton fan, Fowler's career began with Liverpool. He signed as a youth team player on leaving school in the summer of 1991, signing professional terms on his 17th birthday, 9 April 1992.
Fowler's first involvement with the Liverpool first team came on 13 January 1993, when he was an unused substitute in an FA Cup third round tie against Bolton Wanderers. In the following close season, Fowler helped the England under-18 team win the 1993 European Championship, before making a scoring first-team debut in Liverpool's 3–1 win in a first round League Cup tie at Fulham on 22 September 1993. Fowler scored all five goals in the second leg at Anfield two weeks later, making him the fourth player in Liverpool's history to score five in a senior fixture. He scored his first league hat-trick against Southampton in only his fifth league game. His very first league goal for the Reds had come on 16 October 1993, when an 87th-minute equaliser at home to struggling Oldham Athletic saved the Reds from what would have been one of the biggest Premier League shocks of the season, with a last gasp own goal giving Liverpool a 2–1 win. He scored twice in a thrilling 3–3 draw at Tottenham Hotspur on 18 December.
His first 13 games for the club yielded 12 goals, and he was rewarded with an England Under-21 debut against San Marino in November 1993, in which he scored England's opening goal in the third minute. Fowler was unable to sustain his goal-a-game ratio throughout the season, but finished his first season as the club's second top scorer with 18 goals in all competitions, Ian Rush had scored 19. It was, however, a disappointing season for Liverpool, as they finished eighth in the Premier League without making an impact in any of the major competitions, though the departure of Graeme Souness as manager and the appointment of Roy Evans as successor built up hope for a brighter future at Anfield after the disappointment of the first two FA Premier League seasons.
Success and fame
During the 1994–95 season Fowler was a constant member of the Liverpool side, playing in all of their 57 competitive matches, including the victory in the 1995 League Cup final, and a match against Arsenal in which he scored what was then the Premier League's second-fastest hat-trick ever, in four minutes and 33 seconds. His record stood for twenty years until broken by Sadio Mané on 16 May 2015 for Southampton against Aston Villa, who scored three goals in two minutes and 56 seconds. He scored braces against Aston Villa, Ipswich Town, Chelsea and Norwich City in the league that season. Fowler was voted the PFA Young Player of the Year in two consecutive years in 1995 and 1996, a feat also achieved only by Ryan Giggs, Wayne Rooney and Dele Alli.
Throughout the mid and late 1990s, Fowler was widely considered to be the most natural finisher playing in England. Fowler sealed this reputation as he scored more than 30 goals for three consecutive seasons, up to 1997. He remains the only player to have scored 30 plus goals in his first three full seasons in England scoring 98 goals with a total of 116 in just over three years. Fowler's partnership with Steve McManaman was largely described as the reason why Liverpool had become the club known for being the most potent attacking force in England at the time, and Fowler was renowned for scoring goals of all varieties, from every angle and distance, with McManaman describing him as the "greatest goalscorer of all time".
Stan Collymore, Fowler's regular strike partner for two seasons from 1995, said in his autobiography that Fowler was the best player he has ever played alongside. Fowler and Collymore were among the most prolific goal-scoring strike partnerships in England during the 1995–96 season, with £8.4million signing Collymore replacing the veteran Ian Rush as Fowler's regular partner in attack after his arrival in June 1995. In the same season, he scored twice in a 4–3 victory over Newcastle United, a match voted the best of the decade in a Premier League poll. The match helped prevent Newcastle from winning the league, but it was not enough for Liverpool to clinch the title; they finished third while Manchester United were crowned champions. Fowler also played in his first FA Cup final that season, but was on the losing side as Manchester United won 1–0. He had scored four goals against United in the league that season, scoring twice in a 2–2 draw at Old Trafford on 1 October 1995, and twice in a 2–0 win at Anfield on 16 December.
Fowler received a call-up to the full England squad and won his first cap on 27 March 1996 as a substitute in a friendly against Bulgaria. His first start at international level was against Croatia which was the England game following his substitute appearance. Fowler was part of the England squad for Euro 1996, making two appearances in the tournament. On 14 December 1996, he scored four against Middlesbrough, including his hundredth for Liverpool. This meant he reached a century of goals one game quicker than his first strike partner, Ian Rush, in just 165 games.
That year, he also won a UEFA Fair Play award for denying that he had been fouled by Arsenal goalkeeper David Seaman at Highbury after a penalty had been given. After unsuccessfully trying to persuade the referee to change his decision about the penalty, Fowler took it tamely and Seaman saved. However, Seaman failed to hold on to the ball and Jason McAteer scored from the rebound. Although many people believe that he deliberately took the penalty kick poorly for reasons of fair play, Fowler said at the time: "As a goalscorer it's part of my job to take it and I wanted to score it. I tried to score. I never missed on purpose. It just happened, it was a bad penalty."
Fowler was part of a group of Liverpool players from the mid-1990s who were dubbed "The Spice Boys" by the press following a series of off-field controversies. The term was coined by the Daily Mail, and arose due to misplaced rumours that Fowler was dating Spice Girl Emma Bunton. The term was subsequently used in a derogatory manner, implying Fowler and colleagues such as Jamie Redknapp, Stan Collymore, David James and Steve McManaman were underachieving playboys. Still, Liverpool were top of the Premier League by Christmas 1996. By the end of January, however, they had been leapfrogged by Manchester United, who remained top for the rest of the season.
Fowler's performance in the 1997–98 football season was marred by an anterior cruciate (knee) ligament injury that kept him out of action for half of the season and caused him to miss the 1998 World Cup. During this period of injury, fellow Liverpool striker, Michael Owen rose to prominence, making his debut in 1997. Owen established himself in the Liverpool team in Fowler's absence and played alongside him when Fowler regained his fitness.
In 1999, Fowler was fined £60,000 by his club for bringing the game into disrepute. While celebrating his goal against Liverpool's Merseyside rivals, Everton, Fowler used the white line of the penalty area to simulate cocaine use. Liverpool manager Gérard Houllier stated that this was a Cameroonian grass-eating celebration, learnt from teammate Rigobert Song. Defending himself, Fowler later said this was a response to Everton fans who had insulted him with false accusations of drug abuse. Fowler received a four-match suspension from the FA for this incident. At the same FA disciplinary hearing, Fowler received a further two-match suspension due to a separate incident in which he had homophobically taunted the Chelsea defender Graeme Le Saux by waving his backside at him as Le Saux's wife and children watched from the stands. Fowler later attempted to justify his actions by suggesting his taunts were simply an extension of gamesmanship. The FA imposed a £32,000 fine and a six-match ban for the two incidents. While Fowler sent a "letter of apology " to Le Saux for the incident, Le Saux retained that it was "not an apology".
Winning the cup treble
The 2000–01 season was Fowler's most successful season. He scored 17 goals, appeared in three finals, and lifted three trophies in a unique cup treble. In the absence of Jamie Redknapp, who was sidelined by injury, Fowler was named as Liverpool captain when he started. However he found himself the third-choice Liverpool striker, with Houllier favouring a forward partnership of Michael Owen and Emile Heskey.
He took part in a fourth-round League Cup hammering of Stoke City, scoring a hat-trick in an 8–0 victory, which was second only to the club's biggest ever win in 1986 – a 10–0 defeat of Fulham. In the League Cup final against Birmingham City, the club's first cup final since 1996, he captained the side and scored in the 30th minute. Liverpool went on to win the trophy on penalties, with Fowler scoring Liverpool's fifth in the shootout. Fowler picked up the Alan Hardaker Man of the Match award and lifted the trophy.
Fowler's season picked up from there as he scored several important goals including one against runaway champions Manchester United and a free kick in the FA Cup semi-final against Wycombe Wanderers. Fowler featured as a substitute in the 2001 FA Cup Final coming on as a 77th-minute replacement for Vladimír Šmicer. Liverpool, who were 1–0 down at that point, eventually won the game 2–1 with two goals from Owen. Fowler raised the trophy along with Sami Hyypiä and Jamie Redknapp.
Four days later he was a substitute again in Liverpool's third final, the 2001 UEFA Cup Final against Deportivo Alavés. He came on in the 64th minute for Heskey with the score at 3–3. He scored seven minutes later but Alavés equalised before full-time and Liverpool eventually won with a golden goal, an own goal, in the 116th minute. Fowler and Hyypiä then raised Liverpool's third trophy of the season together. Liverpool's next and final game of the season was against Charlton Athletic and Fowler scored twice in a 4–0 victory at The Valley that assured them UEFA Champions League qualification for the next season.
Fowler began the 2001–02 season controversially, after being dropped by the then manager Gérard Houllier from the Liverpool squad for the 2001 Charity Shield match, following a training ground confrontation with assistant manager Phil Thompson. He made an appearance in Liverpool's 3–2 European Super Cup victory over Bayern Munich, but starts were intermittent. In October 2001, he scored his first league hat-trick for three years, helping Liverpool beat Leicester City 4–1, but was dropped for the following league match. Though Fowler had been on a contract extension from 1999 (unlike Steve McManaman – who exercised his Bosman entitlement the very same year), Fowler was linked to Lazio, Arsenal and Leeds United, and Liverpool's management as well as fans and the media constantly reported that what happened with McManaman (regarded as a huge financial loss) would never be repeated and thus the club never rejected those bids without consideration. This meant that coupled with Fowler's relationship with Houllier, speculation over Fowler's future persisted for most of Houllier's tenure and became an issue that divided Liverpool fans. His last appearance for Liverpool was against Sunderland, in which he was substituted at half-time.
Despite his popularity with Liverpool fans, who referred to Fowler as "God", Michael Owen and Emile Heskey had established themselves as Liverpool's regular strike partnership, leaving Fowler on the fringes of the first team. This, along with his difficult relationship with Houllier, made him seek regular first team football away from Anfield in the form of a £12 million move to Leeds United. Fowler maintains that Houllier forced him out of Liverpool, and accused Houllier of pressuring the Liverpool Echo newspaper to use its influence to turn opinion against him.
The transfer went ahead just one month after his hat-trick at Leicester. He made his Leeds debut in an away game against Fulham in December 2001, the same ground where he had made his Liverpool debut eight years earlier. Fowler scored 12 goals in the remainder of the season, helping Leeds to a UEFA Cup qualifying place. Fowler was included in the England squad for the 2002 World Cup, but only made one appearance, coming on as a substitute in a second-round win over Denmark.
Fowler suffered an aggravation of a pre-existing hip injury in the 2002–03 pre-season, and did not recover until December. Struggling to gain fitness, and seeing teammates sold off due to a financial crisis, Fowler's form and market value diminished. It was despite this decrease in form that he still, in total, scored 15 goals in 31 appearances for Leeds; achieving an impressive strike rate of just less than one goal every two games. In 2002–03, Leeds finished 15th in the Premier League and a severe financial crisis was developing.
In the 2002–03 season, Fowler was transferred to Manchester City following a protracted transfer saga. Fowler initially turned down the move and a dispute between Manchester City manager Kevin Keegan and chairman David Bernstein over whether the transfer should take place due to medical concerns resulted in Bernstein leaving the club. Following encouragement from Keegan, Fowler finally signed for Manchester City on 16 January 2003 for an initial fee of £3 million and a further £3 million dependent upon appearances. Bizarre transfer conditions meant Leeds United still paid a significant proportion of Fowler's wages. Fowler made his Manchester City debut against West Bromwich Albion on 1 February 2003, but made a poor start to his Manchester City career, scoring just two goals in the remainder of the season.
Fowler continued to struggle with fitness problems in the 2003–04 season, completing the full 90 minutes only nine times, however, he did score against his old club, Liverpool, in a 2–2 draw at home. The arrival of close friend Steve McManaman from Real Madrid gave Fowler hope, but the pair failed to rekindle their prolific partnership from their time at Liverpool, and received criticism from the fans and tabloids for their salaries and alleged excesses; they were named and shamed in a sex scandal covered by the News of the World that year.
Despite the slump, Fowler rallied for the following campaign, and showed a marked improvement in the second half of the 2004–05 season, scoring his 150th Premiership goal in the 3–2 win over Norwich City on 28 February 2005. However, his failure to convert a 90th-minute penalty kick against Middlesbrough's Mark Schwarzer in the final game of the season prevented Manchester City from gaining a place in the UEFA Cup. Despite this, Fowler ended the season as the club's joint top goal scorer and gained the approval of the fans, finishing in the top three in the fans' Player of the Year poll. Fowler later described this as "one of the proudest achievements of my career".
Fowler had injury problems at the start of the 2005–06 season and rarely featured when fit, making just two substitute appearances in the first four months of the season. His first start of the season came against Scunthorpe United in the FA Cup on 7 January 2006, in which he scored a hat-trick. The following week he scored Manchester City's third goal in their 3–1 win against local rivals Manchester United after coming on as a substitute. However, Fowler made only one more appearance for Manchester City before returning to Liverpool on a free transfer.
Return to Liverpool
On 27 January 2006, Fowler rejoined Liverpool from Manchester City on a free transfer, signing a contract until the end of the season. Fowler had remained a Liverpool fan after he left the club; he was in the Istanbul crowd when Liverpool won the Champions League in 2005.
Liverpool fans were delighted to learn that Fowler had returned; there were large banners in the game against Birmingham City which read 'God – number eleven, welcome back to heaven', with 'God' being Fowler's nickname while he was previously at Liverpool.
Fowler's return against Birmingham City in February 2006 was labelled by the tabloid press as the stuff of fairytales, and he said he felt like "a kid waking up on Christmas morning every day". Fowler's first appearance back at Anfield was as a substitute against Birmingham, receiving a standing ovation upon his introduction. After his return, he had three goals ruled out for offside, before finally getting off the mark on 15 March 2006 in a home game against Fulham, the same opponents against which he scored his first-ever goal for Liverpool 13 years earlier.
Fowler's next Liverpool goal, against West Bromwich Albion, meant he overtook Kenny Dalglish in the club's all-time top scorers. His resurgence continued as he marked his 31st birthday with a goal against Bolton Wanderers. He made it four goals in five games when he scored the only goal in a 1–0 victory over Blackburn Rovers on 16 April 2006. However, Fowler's fitness remained a concern. In March 2006, manager Rafael Benítez commented on Fowler's work and progress by saying, "to buy a Robbie Fowler who is fit and scoring goals would cost a lot, maybe £10m or more". Despite concerns about his fitness, Fowler finished the 2005–06 season scoring on a more consistent basis than Liverpool's other strikers. In May 2006 he was offered a new one-year contract with the club, and celebrated by scoring the first goal in Liverpool's last league game of the season in a 3–1 away win at Portsmouth. It was his final game of the season as he was unable to take part in the club's FA Cup Final success due to being cup-tied.
Fowler featured rarely in his final Liverpool season, making only six league starts. Bizarrely, all three of his League goals were penalties against Sheffield United. One of these was in the away game on the opening day of the season, and the other two in the reverse fixture at Anfield. Appearances in other competitions were more common due to Rafael Benítez's squad rotation policy. On 25 October 2006 Fowler was named as Liverpool's captain for the first time since his return in a League Cup tie against Reading, scoring just before half-time in a 4–3 win.
On 5 December, Fowler scored his first two goals in the UEFA Champions League competition proper against Galatasaray (he had previously scored during a qualifying tie some six years prior against FC Haka), though Liverpool lost 3–2.
On 1 May 2007, he was a substitute in the Champions League semi-final against Chelsea, brought on in the last few minutes of extra-time. He set up an attack for Dirk Kuyt but the shot went straight at the Chelsea goalkeeper. The match went into a penalty shoot-out that Liverpool won. Fowler was due to take the fifth and final spot-kick, but the game had already ended when Kuyt slotted home his winning penalty.
In what transpired to be his last appearance for the club, against Charlton Athletic on 13 May, Fowler was given the captain's armband one final time. He was substituted two minutes from the final whistle and given a standing ovation. He finished his second run as a Liverpool player with a UEFA Champions League runners-up medal, although he was not named in either the starting eleven or the seven substitutes. He became a free agent on 1 July having scored 183 goals in 369 appearances during his two spells at the club.
On 21 July 2007 Fowler signed a two-year contract to play for Cardiff City. He missed the season's opening fixtures due to a lack of fitness, making his debut in a League Cup tie on 28 August. He scored his first two Cardiff goals on 22 September against Preston North End, scoring with two headers. Fowler scored twice in his next game, a third round League Cup tie against West Brom, which Cardiff won 4–2. This led to a fourth round tie against Fowler's former club Liverpool, at Anfield, to which even the Liverpool faithful crowd urged Fowler to score seeing that it may be the last time he would play in Anfield but Cardiff were knocked out in a 2–1 defeat.
In November, Fowler travelled to Frankfurt, Germany to see Dr. Hans-Wilhelm Müller-Wohlfahrt, a specialist sports injuries doctor, to try and resolve a recurring hip problem that had left him lacking fitness in early season fixtures for the Bluebirds. The treatment involved taking around twenty-eight injections into his hip. He returned to full training in late November and made his comeback on 15 December as a late substitute in a 1–0 defeat against Bristol City. However he went on to suffer another injury blow just days later after a mistimed tackle in training from club captain Darren Purse left him with damaged ankle ligaments. Due to the new injury blow Cardiff and Fowler made plans for him to go to Colorado, United States to undergo keyhole surgery on the hip problem, which had plagued him in recent seasons, in the hope that it would finally resolve the problem.
On 17 January 2008, it was announced that Fowler could miss the rest of the 2007–08 season for Cardiff after his hip operation revealed that the injury was worse than previously thought. Surgeons were forced to perform a micro-fracture for the hip to heal properly. Despite this, he attempted to make a comeback at the end of the season to play in the FA Cup final against Portsmouth and was included in the 18-man match squad. He did not feature in the game in and thus did not receive a runners-up medal having not made an appearance in the competition.
Fowler was offered a new pay-as-you-play contract with Cardiff for the 2008–09 season in May 2008 and was expected to sign the contract. However, he pulled out of the deal, preferring to accept an offer of a trial at Blackburn Rovers from former Liverpool colleague Paul Ince. The move left Cardiff manager Dave Jones and chairman Peter Ridsdale furious after the club had assisted Fowler's rehabilitation throughout the summer. After training with Blackburn and appearing in a handful of friendlies he was offered a six-month deal by the club to last until January, but Fowler turned down the deal due to it being a shorter offer than the previous one he had rejected at Cardiff. After turning down the offer, Fowler made a shock enquiry about returning to Cardiff on the deal he had originally turned down, prompting anger from supporters and a swift "no thanks" from the club.
Fowler concluded the trial period at Blackburn by agreeing to a three-month pay-as-you-play deal. He stated that he was eager to return to the Premier League and that his pre-existing relationship with Ince would not earn him any preferential treatment. He made his first appearance against Everton in a 1–0 win in the League Cup on 24 September. With a month left on his contract at Blackburn, Fowler received interest from League Two side Grimsby Town. Fowler, a friend of then Grimsby manager Mike Newell had held talks at Blundell Park over a possible Player/Coach role with the club.
His three-month deal at Blackburn expired on 12 December 2008, and after not being offered a new contract was released by the club, he entered talks with new Australian A-League club North Queensland Fury.
North Queensland Fury
Fowler signed with the North Queensland Fury on 4 February 2009 and became their inaugural marquee player; with his family relocating to Townsville for the 2009–10 season of the Australian A-League. It was an important signing for the new franchise who struggled to sign a marquee player, while some questioned whether Fowler would be able to cope with the heat and humidity of North Queensland.
Fowler made his debut in July 2009 in a 2–1 pre-season loss against Wolverhampton Wanderers in Perth after recovering from groin and hip complaints. Fowler was subsequently named North Queensland Fury's captain for the 2009–10 season and the first in the club's history. He scored his first A-League goal from a penalty kick in his club's first competitive match against Sydney FC on Saturday 8 August 2009. In rounds four, five, and six Fowler scored Solo's Hyundai A-League Goal of the Week.
Shortly after his arrival in Australia, it was reported in the British media that Fowler would be making a swift return to his homeland and sign for League One side Tranmere Rovers, who had just appointed Fowler's former Liverpool teammate John Barnes as manager. However, Fowler was quick to dismiss talk of a quick return to England. When Barnes was dismissed three months later, it was reported that Tranmere had approached Fowler about becoming player-manager, but these reports too were dismissed.
Controversy erupted around Fowler after he reportedly refused to play against the Brisbane Roar on 23 January after being named on the interchange bench for the clash. He, however, returned to the starting line up for two of the last three games of the season. Fowler ended the season collecting a hat-trick of awards at the club's end-of-season awards night, he was awarded the club's Player of the Year, Players' Player of the Year and the Golden Boot as top goal scorer. On 15 June 2010, Fowler confirmed that he was taking legal action over the ending of his playing contract with North Queensland Fury. He was suing the Fury and Football Federation Australia, which took over the running of the club.
On 27 April 2010, it was announced that Fowler had agreed to become part of Glory's squad for the 2010–11 A-League season. Fowler reportedly ignored offers from Middle East clubs as well as Sydney FC to play in Perth. He joined the Glory for pre-season training in mid-June, following World Cup sponsorship commitments. Fowler scored his first goal for Perth on 29 August, a penalty against Melbourne Heart. He followed this up with a headed goal the following week against the Wellington Phoenix. In the following match, Fowler's hat-trick gave the Glory a 3–1 victory against Melbourne Victory at the Dairy Farmers Stadium in Townsville. Fowler ended the year as top scorer for the club.
On returning to England, Fowler briefly worked with League One side Milton Keynes Dons on an ad hoc basis to assist the club's coaching staff. On 7 April 2011, Bury confirmed that Fowler would join their coaching staff for a week to assist Richie Barker. Fowler then briefly coached Liverpool's strikers in April 2011.
On 7 July 2011, Fowler agreed to play with Muangthong United, signing a one-year contract. In a press conference he stated that the weather conditions of Nonthaburi should not be a problem as he had played in Townsville and Perth. He was quickly a hit with Muangthong fans and the Thai public in general; he attended Thailand's World Cup Qualifier against Oman wearing the national team's shirt. He has since played a handful of scoreless games, both at the Yamaha Stadium and on the road in the AFC Cup, until the Twin Qilins were eliminated from the competition by Al-Kuwait. After the sacking of Henrique Calisto as head coach, Fowler was made player/coach.
On 16 October 2011, after 250 minutes of play, Fowler scored his first goal for MTU against Chiangrai. He scored his 250th club career goal on 21 December 2011 against TTM Phichit. On 28 February 2012, Fowler announced he had left the club following Slavisa Jokanovic's appointment as coach.
On 1 March 2012, Blackpool manager Ian Holloway confirmed that Fowler was training with the Seasiders and that he could earn a deal until the end of the season. However, they could not agree a deal and Fowler decided against signing when Karl Oyston offered the striker £100 a week with £5,000 for every first-team appearance.
On 22 September 2012, Fowler announced that he is "all but retired from professional football." He said this on the television show Soccer AM. In an interview in March 2013, he said that he was "not officially retired" and would "jump at the opportunity to play again." Fowler has also stated in other interviews that he is currently completing his coaching licences. Fowler was on a six-man shortlist and interviewed for the vacant manager's job at Conference side Macclesfield Town in May 2013, but caretaker manager John Askey was eventually appointed on a full-time basis.
Fowler featured in Steven Gerrard's testimonial match against Olympiacos F.C. on 3 August 2013. He came off the bench in the 73rd minute to a warm reception from Liverpool fans, but failed to score a goal. On 21 April 2014, Fowler also featured in a charity match to commemorate the lives of the 96 Liverpool fans who died in the Hillsborough Disaster. Fowler scored both goals for his team in a 2–2 draw. On 2 January 2015, Fowler tweeted "Gutted about Steven, but what an unbelievable player... I'm officially hanging my boots up as from now...A sad day for me" and so officially announced his retirement. In May 2016, it was revealed that Fowler would return to the pitch to play for England in Soccer Aid, a charity football match in aid of UNICEF, alongside Jamie Carragher.
Fowler earned his first cap for England on 27 March 1996, coming on as a 76th-minute substitute in the 1–0 friendly win against Bulgaria at Wembley Stadium. On 24 April, he won his second cap and made his first start for England in the 0–0 draw with Croatia. Despite only having 3 caps to his name, England manager Terry Venables selected Fowler in his 22-man squad for Euro 1996. Fowler went on to make two substitute appearances in the tournament, featuring in the 4–1 win against the Netherlands in the final group game, and in the 0–0 draw against Spain in the quarter-finals, a game England won on penalties.
Fowler did not feature during England's qualifying campaign for the 1998 FIFA World Cup, mainly due to a serious knee ligament injury late in the 1997–98 season, and thus missed out on Glenn Hoddle's 22-man squad for the tournament. He did, however, manage to score his first goal for his country on 29 March 1997, netting the second goal in a 2–0 friendly win against Mexico at Wembley Stadium. A second goal followed in his next cap on 15 November, netting just before half-time in the 2–0 friendly win against Cameroon.
On 9 June 1999, Fowler played in his first competitive game for England in nearly three years, starting in the 1–1 draw with Bulgaria during Euro 2000 qualifying. Kevin Keegan named Fowler in the preliminary squad for Euro 2000, and after featuring in the three warm-up games against Brazil, Ukraine, and Malta, he was named in the final squad on 1 June 2000. Fowler did not play in the tournament as England were eliminated in the group stages.
Fowler scored his fourth goal for England on 25 May 2001, netting the second goal in the 4–0 friendly win against Mexico at Pride Park, Derby. On 5 September, he scored his first competitive goal for England in the 2–0 win against Albania at St James' Park, Newcastle. This was during qualifying for the 2002 FIFA World Cup. England qualified for the World Cup, and after scoring in friendlies against Italy and Cameroon, Fowler was selected in Sven-Göran Eriksson's 23-man squad for the tournament in South Korea and Japan. He didn't appear in any of England's group matches, but on 15 June 2002, he came on as a second-half substitute in the 3–0 win against Denmark in the Round of 16. This turned out to be Fowler's last cap for his country. He won a total of 26 caps for England and scored 7 goals.
On 1 October 2011, Fowler was appointed as the manager of Muangthong United, where he was already an existing player. Muangthong had taken action and sacked Henrique Calisto; a statement made by the club read, "The board have appointed Robbie Fowler as the acting head coach and have terminated the contract of Portuguese boss Henrique Calisto. The contract is until the end of the season and the team must adapt to long-term goals if it is to succeed in Asia", thus making Fowler player-manager.
In October 2013, it was announced that Fowler would be taking up a coaching role with Liverpool's academy. On 9 September 2014, it was reported that Fowler had applied for the vacant managerial role at his former club Leeds United.
On 23 April 2019, it was announced by Australian Hyundai A-League club Brisbane Roar that Fowler had signed a two-year contract to act as the club's new head coach ahead of the forthcoming 2019–20 season. Upon his appointment, it was also announced that Tony Grant and Darren Davies would be joining his coaching staff, with Davies having acted as caretaker manager prior to Fowler's arrival. To mark the managerial contrast, Brisbane announced a major clear-out during the off-season, where fourteen senior players were released, notably marquee player Eric Bautheac. Fowler then made his first signing as a manager in June, when Roy O'Donovan signed from Newcastle United Jets.
Fowler's first competitive match in charge came in a 2–0 thriller, which ended in Brisbane's favour against reigning A-League champions Sydney on 7 August in the FFA Cup. Independently, Fowler won the league's Coach of the Month accolade for January and February 2020. With play halted as a result of the coronavirus pandemic for the past three months, Fowler announced his decision to leave the club, stating that he was unwilling to be apart from his family; he and Grant had returned to England in March.
On 9 October 2020, Indian Super League side East Bengal announced the signing of Fowler as their new manager. Under him they collected seventeen points from first eighteen league fixtures and were placed ninth of eleven.The All India Football Federation‘s (AIFF) disciplinary committee issued a four-match ban and a substantial fine of 5 Lakh against Fowler during the 2020-21 season, for involvement in a verbal disagreement with the match officials and league organizers after their match with FC Goa.
Style of play
A prolific goal-scorer, Fowler was a quick and opportunistic striker, with good technical ability. Although naturally left-footed, he possessed an accurate, powerful shot from both inside and outside the area with both feet; he was also effective in the air. Despite his reputation as a "goal-poacher", he was also a creative forward, capable of linking up well with other players, and laying off the ball to other strikers. Despite his talent, he was also known to be injury-prone throughout his career.
In his playing career, Fowler was sponsored by the sportswear company Nike, and appeared in Nike commercials. In 1997 he starred in Nike's "Park Life" commercial (set to the tune "Parklife" by Blur) where a group of amateur pub league players playing football at Hackney Marshes in east London are suddenly joined by top Premier League footballers, including Fowler, Eric Cantona and Ian Wright. In 2000, "Park Life" ranked number 15 in Channel 4's poll of the 100 Greatest TV Ads.
Fowler is a supporter of Liverpool F.C. and regularly attends matches at Anfield. He does media work for Abu Dhabi Sports Channel, Sky Sports and ITV.
In association with long-term friend Steve McManaman, Fowler has invested in several racehorses through their company The Macca and Growler Partnership, most notably 2003 Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Celebration Chase runner-up Seebald. In 2005, Fowler was listed as one of the 1,000 wealthiest Britons by the Sunday Times Rich List, with the paper estimating he has a property portfolio of more than 80, while his Robbie Fowler Sports Promotions company has been reported to have net assets of £1.58 million. Other business interests including a large property portfolio have resulted in Fowler's net wealth totaling £28 million. This gave rise to the affectionate Manchester City Football Club chant, "We all live in a Robbie Fowler house", sung to the tune of "Yellow Submarine".
On 2 September 2005, Fowler released a book called Fowler: My Autobiography, about his time as a footballer and the issues surrounding him. Since his transfer to Liverpool, he has updated it and included a section about his return to Anfield. Excerpts published in newspapers included criticism of the England management.
In June 2008, Fowler participated alongside McManaman in Steve Nash and Claudio Reyna's Showdown in Chinatown, an 8-on-8 charity football game at Sara D. Roosevelt Park in Manhattan with McManaman making five of the goals, including one for Fowler.
In 2011, Fowler and McManaman participated in a Select World XI against Chechen dictator Ramzan Kadyrov and his select XI in a public relations fundraiser in the war-torn nation's capital of Grozny. The match caused much press bewilderment in the western world, mainly due to Kadyrov's abysmal human rights record and known practices of torture and rape as weapons of rule. British press also cited the use of and payment of footballers to parade the event as particularly "evil", with The Guardian labelling it "Football's moment in Bed with Kadyrov".
|Leeds United||2001–02||Premier League||22||12||1||0||0||0||—||23||12|
|Manchester City||2002–03||Premier League||13||2||0||0||0||0||—||13||2|
|Blackburn Rovers||2008–09||Premier League||3||0||0||0||3||0||—||6||0|
|North Queensland Fury||2009–10||A-League||26||9||0||0||—||—||26||9|
|Muangthong United||2011||Thai Premier League||13||2||4||2||1||0||2||0||20||4|
|1||29 March 1997||Wembley Stadium, London, England||6||Mexico||2–0||2–0||Friendly|
|2||15 November 1997||Wembley Stadium, London, England||7||Cameroon||2–0||2–0|
|3||31 May 2000||Wembley Stadium, London, England||13||Ukraine||1–0||2–0|
|4||25 May 2001||Pride Park Stadium, Derby, England||17||Mexico||2–0||4–0|
|5||5 September 2001||St James' Park, Newcastle upon Tyne, England||20||Albania||2–0||2–0||2002 FIFA World Cup qualification|
|6||27 March 2002||Elland Road, Leeds, England||23||Italy||1–0||1–2||Friendly|
|7||26 May 2002||Noevir Stadium Kobe, Kobe, Japan||25||Cameroon||2–2||2–2|
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