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I never really understood why but Robbie Fowler was known as God in Liverpool for many years, while he was a decent striker, I don´t believe he ever really fulfilled the potential to be considered in the same bracket as Strikers of his era such as Michael Owen or Alan Shearer despite a heck of a start.
This book follows Fowler from scally youngster to Premiership superstar and two things came across for me in this book, his willingness not to take things seriously and his business acumen.
We follow Fowler through Youth leagues as he breaks every goalscoring record created on Merseyside until he joins Liverpool and is promoted very quickly to the first team squad.
Part of the problem of this introduction is that it also applies to Jamie Carragher and Steven Gerrards books. Also as with their books, Fowler is open about his problems with Gerrard Houllier, with some of the foreign footballers within the Liverpool squad and the sqauds image as the Spice Boys. He is open in what he says and eloquent at times, but moments such as the sniffing the penalty area, or baiting of Graeme Le Saux come accross as vindictive and a bit nasty.
Fowler does explain his actions at all times and there are funny moments such as the time he hits Liverpool Coach Phil Thompson on the bum with a shot and calls him big nose.
The book is also honest in Fowler accepting he didn´t fulfil his potential and that moves to Leeds and other clubs were really a step down from Liverpool personally for him.
The elements where Fowler talks about family show he has a big heart and he does seem to do a lot for his community as well as being one of the biggest landlords in the UK, but for me this book is about unfulfilled dreams of a potentially great player.
I bought the book on Amazon Marketplace for 39p plus 2GBP for posting and packing, it is 352 pages long and easily available for a similar price today.
I've read an awful lot of footballers' biographies and a lot of them have been truly awful. The goods ones, I've truly enjoyed, include Gary Nelson's Left Foot Forward and Roy Keane's "The Biography" - both down to earth, warts and all, vastly informative and full of great insight.
I read the 352 page paperback version. With a quite small type size this is quite a lengthy read (for a book of this nature). I already thought that I knew a lot about Robbie - he, as he often says himself in this tome, was one of the very first goalscoring superstars of the English Premiership. He believes that he was the Wayne Rooney of his time, always in the press and highly talented. I was hoping that this book would be crammed full of new nuggets of information that I could file away amongst the treasure chest of footie trivia that I carry round in my head.
So what are the main themes of this autobiorgaphy?
* Robbie's upbringing
He has an unconventional family set up and his parents were "together" but living in separate houses. He lived in a tight-knit community in Liverpool's Toxteth. He was about 6 or 7 when the infamous Toxteth riots took place but has little recollection of them (even though there was looting, skrmishes, police charges, fire bombings and the like outside of his own front door). This was undoubtedly a rough and poor area and a recurring theme, definitely recurring too often, throughout the book is that he believes that he has been pigeon-holed as a no-good scally (probably into drugs etc) by the media. If you come from Toxteth then you must be trouble.
*His career at Liverpool
Robbie was mad keen Everton fan and attracted their attention, as well as that of a host of others including Liverpool, through his goalscoring feats in youth football. Eventually he, and his father, choose The Reds after they and their manager Kenny Dalgleish had impressed him with their attitude and treatment of him.
We are taken through the, well-known, highs of his early pro career (scoring 30 goals in 3 successive seasons). He enjoyed playing under Dalgleish and then Roy Evans and with the great legend Ian Rush (who was always ready to offer support and advice to the young pretender). The Anfield faithful took him to their hearts and nickname him simply "God".
The rot sets in with injuries and the appointment of Gerard Houllier and Phil Thompson as the management team. A lot of space is devoted to how Robbie wasn't liked or wanted by Houllier - even though he ends up captaining Liverpool in their treble winning 2000/1 season.
7 goals from 26 caps (many from the bench) was a disappointing record for a player of Robbie's promise. Again injuries and personality clashes (especially with Mr Hoddle) are given as excuses for not excelling on the international stage.
Robbie felt forced out of Anfield and moved to Leeds in 2001 and Man City (under Keegan) 2 years later. Again he was dogged by injury and didn't match the excellence of his early career. The story finishes before his later moves back to Liverpool (to warm the bench under Benitez), Cardiff and Blackburn.
Having read the book.........
The book is too long and could easily shed 50 or more pages. Robbie had seen his greatest years by the time he was about 22 - he was never to recapture the brilliance of those early years. He recognises that but also that he has had a privileged life - earning millions, great lifestyle, lovely family, playing football at the highest level etc, etc - and is grateful for that. He suffered at the hands of the press (dentist's chair, short dropping to Graham Le Saux, sniffing the touchline at Goodison, Spice Boys) and does seem bitter about about that, believing that he was an easy target because of his Toxteth upbringing. The one abiding memory that I will take away from this book is that Robbie Fowler is not as much of a Scally as I had previously thought.
I would recommend this to all footy fans, whatever team you follow, he was one of the first PL superstars and his story is one to enjoy.
I am a sports mad person who enjoys reading my sporting idols careers and how things started, Robbie, "The God" Fowler certainly falls into this category and I was thrilled when I was given this book for Christmas.
Robbie's Career -
Robbie is a Liverpool legend. He made his debut for Liverpool way back in 1993 and has just played his last game for the club after returning to them after a A bad reputation seems to follow him throughout his career, but after reading this book (I knew this anyway) this is totally unfounded. Robbie is actually seems to be more like the person who appealed to the ref not to give a penalty against Arsenal. Robbie played for Liverpool, Leeds and Man City.
Robbie was also capped 26 times by his country scoring 7 times.
Robbie at Liverpool -
This book explores Robbie's relationships with players like Steve MacManaman and shows where the horse racing for the 'Macca and Growler partnership', whilst learning his footballing trade from other greats like Ian Rush. You also find out where the Spice Boy's tag came from and why it stuck. Robbie also had his problems with team mates and you get the low down on the plane incident with Neil Ruddock. Robbie keenly explores his relationships with his managers, or lack of one with Houlier and Phil Thompson.
Robbie won major honours at Liverpool. He lifted the treble in 2000-2001 as Liverpool vice captain as Jamie Redknapp was out injured, however he found himself third choice striker behind Owen and Heskey.
Whilst in his early career at Liverpool, Fowler won the PFA young player of the year award for two consecutive seasons. This is a feat that has only been matched by Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney.
Outside of football -
Whilst getting all this on Robbie's star studded life he also gives you a very good insight into life growing up in Toxeth. How the Liverpool riots took place right on his doorstep, his relationship with friends and how he only had one thing on his mind - Football.
This book also explores his relationship with the Press and incidents like the coke snorting goal celebration and his relationship with the Blue nose supporters of Everton Football club. He often took a lot of stick from them and was once beaten up in a Liverpool hotel as a result.
The only down side of the book was that the first couple of chapters seemed to take along time to get through. It wasn't that the chapters were massive either, It just took me a while to get into the book, but once I got into his playing career his book quickly passed.
This is a funny, Witty and a deep insight into the last clinical goalscorer that England produced. I have read alot of footballers books and i have to say that this was the one that I have enjoyed the most thus far and there are so many things that Robbie has done in football. But then again Robbie is a true legend in my generation.
Verdict 4/5 - Defiantly worth a read for football fans of my generation. Robbie has done so much to the game and is often mis-interpreted but this book show's that he isn't a terror. Robbie is currently 4th in the premier league goal scoring charts and holds the fastest hat-trick in premiership history scored after netting a hat-trick against Arsenal in 4 and a half minutes. I don't want to go into much depth over many of the things.....let the great man speak for himself
With Liverpool playing some great football with that excellent big squad (could this be the year?) and the rougher parts of the city in the news right now for all the wrong reasons this autobiography couldnt be a more topical read, especially as drugs were always associated with Liverpools most prolific striker, of which he comfortably and passionately dispels all those rumors in this enjoyable read. I for one believe him on that score, even though I didnt think I would before reading this. Robbie Fowler enjoys playing up to being a Liverpool scaly but hes no junkie, a bundle of Liverpool FC all-time records testament to that one.
Robbie Fowler encapsulates that Liverpool heartbeat, a touch of the rogue, but also the need to do well to escape the city that seems to revel in being poor and anti establishment, and so all the positives and negatives that come with that. The Scousers demand sympathy when their number are lost yet colle ctively refuse to cough up the killer of little Reece or take any responsibility for Hillsborough and Heisel. Its no coincidence to me both those incidents happened to Liverpool fans.
Fans were a pack in the bad old days and so had a pack mentality, do what the rest do, cramming behind the goal too close to kick off, one too many pints down their necks. The Leppings lane tragedy that all football fans have scarred on their memories was always a matter of time, not a freak accident. All fans have been to games when that nearly happened due to bad behavior. Blaming the police was so wrong. Graeme Sounnes extremely antagonistic decision to give an exclusive interview to The Sun when he was Liverpool manager about his dodgy heart and Liverpool FC problems summed up the Scousers ambiguity over the Hillsborough tragedy. Thye castigated him for that one.
Im not a Liverpool fan but a huge admirer of this guy, someone who England should have made more of at his peak. Robbie agrees with that and has more than his twopenneth worth on the England managers he worked under. He surprisingly describes Keegan as gauche and awkward around the players, the team unable to connect with a guy you thought they would have no problems with as far as banter went. His lack of tactical awareness is well documented. Robbie says there were no tactics, just go out and play.
Glen Hoddle gets far worse from the author, especially over Eileen Drury, Glens Witchdoctor! When Ray Parlour took the seat at Eileens home to see how many demons he had, the ginger midfielder asked for a short back and sides. Two days later he was bombed out of the squad. Anyone who didnt go along with Hoddles bizarre spiritual stuff would soon disappear. It was compulsory to see her. Robbie proudly reveals he had three demons, but Gazza, as ever, gazzumped him, proudly announcing he had five! Hoddle also insisted the players took Creatin, a semi banned steroid powder.
Robbies England career would come to an end with Hoddle when he confronted the nutcase on the plane back from Holland with a torrent of abuse on his bizarre methods of motivation, Robbie relying on good old Dutch courage from a likewise lager to speak on behalf of the team.
Eriksson fairs ok, although the 4-4-2 long ball didnt fit Robbies style, describing life up front for the Svengali like chasing pigeons. He also confirms Sven was useless at half-time during that infamous World Cup quarter-final in Japan against Brazil. Terry Venables turns out to be the players favorite by far, although this may have something to do with letting the players get drunk a lot!
The book is set out unconventionally for a biography, chronological order not the point here. Robbie wants to talk and he talks, the book jumping around like a demented grasshopper at times. He tends to theme his chapters: one about England, one about Houllier etc, someone else who gets slaughtered inside. The chapters are just the right length and easy to read (bold print for the Liverpool fans version!); welcome pictures for them to color in at the intervals.
What I like about the book is Robbie is full on honest about everything and doesnt let anyone off the hook. Hes fair but warm with the guys that helped his career flourish in the early days, Dalglish and Souness fitting that category, but ruthless to the point of libel with the rest. He even calls Phil Thompson a dickhead!
No wonder Houllier had a heart attack! I particularly chuckled as he recounts the stories of winding up Gary Neville and Greame LeSaux on the park, homosexuality and aesthetically challenged comments never too far away..
The early Robbie
Known as Robbie Ryan in his teens as a Toxteth tearaway, he was soon moving through the city and county team grades on the famous Penny Lane pitches were the Liverpool home grown stars of the past were often discovered. It was hear they held the trials and it was hear many players were discovered for both Everton and Liverpool.
As a childhood Everton fan from a likewise clan it was a test of severe loyalty for Robbie to eventually sign for Liverpool on those YTS forms, an unthinkable £29:50 a week in 1991, if you considers todays pampered 16 year olds. Robbie would go on to be the highest paid teenager with his next contract negotiation, the real first Sky Sports millionaire.
The early chapters on his youth are quite political for a football player, Robbie growing up during the infamous Toxteth riots, which he firmly lays the blame of the police and not the local West Indian /Somali population who battered the Rossers for three days with the contents of everyones front rooms, whether you were rioting or not. He also uses that early life apathy to have pop at todays high earners on ludicrous wages, the agents also getting a broadside, and here here to that.
Interestingly he touches on how much the parents have to gain from their kids being premiership footballers for certain clubs these days, Liverpool eventually getting his signature by offering his parents three hundred pound a month upkeep. Today the academies hoover up the best talent and offer mums and dads houses and cars for the lucky one in a hundred that comes out the other end to sign proper forms. With Man United, a club whos success was built on home grown talent over the years, not having a regular in their first team from the academy in the last five years, the kids are now no longer trained up to play for the team that signed them young, but sold on for big money to other clubs after they cost nothing, the prestige of the Manchester United Academies the selling point. Academies are clearly something very different today at the big clubs.
It was Kenny Dalglish that secured Britains soon to be most exciting young striker, Souness the manager who took him on. After scoring on his debut against Fulham (the team he debuted against for his first three clubs) he would soon bang an incredible five goals in on his League Cup debut, repeating his strike partner Ian Rushes previous club best. There quickly followed a hatrick against Southampton in the inaugural season of the Premiership in only his fifth game for the first team, and then that amazing 4 and a half minute hatrick against Arsenal in the League Cup to stake his claim as the new Liverpool number nine legend, the next in a long line. Getting a goal in his first Merseyside derby against his beloved Everton would bring home the fact he had turned his back on his families colors.
It was not long until Souness bumped up his wages, Robbie on three grand a week by his 18th birthday, the big money about to pour into football via Sky. The next contract would be bigger still under Houllier, his agent securing one of the first image rights deals.
With four goals on his 100th game against Bolton Robbie would go onto smash 30 goals a season for his first three years there, 120 in the first four years. Not even Rushie could live with that.
On other players
Robbie doesnt hold back on fellow pros, revealing David James is sleep walker and likes to throttle his room mate and thats why the club put Stan Collymore in with him. Collymore gets a lot of stick in the book and again Fowler doesnt hold back. Clearly the guy was a problem striker at Liverpool and, of course, a threat to Robbies position at the club. One incident of the state of Stans mind and ego at the time was seeing him question the mangers tactics after only two weeks at the club. Stan lost it when regular prankster Steve Harkness put human poo poo in Collys overnight bag, Stan claming it was a racist attack, even though Harkness had done it to every other player. It was about this time the team earnt their tag as the Spice Boys, the bizarre white suits at the FA Cup Final with United not helping. There are plenty of stories in the book about late nights, although Robbie does play down his reputation somewhat and at times paranoid at the way he is seen in the tabloids, especially over the drug allegations. He was particularly annoyed that the special nose clip he wore for his sinuses was seen as some sort of support for the supposed cocaine eroded conk.
There is great humor in the book, too. Most of you know he and Steve MacManamom like the horses (Robbie bizarrely allergic to them), both having big stakes in the industry. For a joke some of the players bought a filly and tried to get it called Some Horse ,the joke being the commentator would have to say Some Horse is coming up on the rails..ho ho. I think thats quite a clever joke for a footballer, although it was Jamos (David James) idea, apparently the most intelligent football player at the time at Liverpool, behind Stan Collymore of course. I like his dig at David Beckham for getting in on every photo of every goal celebration for England and Man United.
It would be Houllier that eventually force Robbie out of his beloved Liverpool, even though the team had one of their best ever season in the treble winning 2000-1 season with Robbie up front with a very young Michael Owen. Fowler calls it his beast season, but his worst season. Unsettled as a player but winning trophies.
The French manager had been bought in because his knowledge of World Cup winning French football and so could well be the man to bring them the big two trophies of the Premiership and the Champions League. Spending some £140 million on 40 players, half from the French League, Houlliers first signing lasted only 51 minutes. Do you remember Ferri?
It was a straight choice between apparently wealthy Leeds United, pushing for all sorts of honors, or skint Chelsea. Robbie, after being sweet-talked (and obviously bullsh**ed) by Peter Risdale, fatally chose Leeds, Chelsea ironically ending up the mega rich club. He and Seth Johnson were bought into as a high risk strategy to give Leeds that one last push for the Premiership, the final financial nail in the coffin as few new just had bad the books looked, Fowler unaware when he signed they were minus £69 million. But we all know the feverish selling began just after Christmas, but Leeds just one point behind Arsenal at the top, but by then it was all over. Fowler was one of the last big names to go, finally tempted to Manchester City by Keegan, both clubs paying his huge wages, Fowler scoring just five goals in four months alongside the stroppy Nicholas Anelka. They hated Robbie at Maine Road, especially at the end when he missed the penalty that would have put them in Europe. Things didnt get any better for Fowler when he was arrested and cautioned for head-butting Filbert the Fox, the Leicester City mascot. The romantic loan move to Liverpool completes the book and Robbie Fowlers full-circle
Im not a Liverpool fan in any way but saw this in the 50p bucket so thought why not. I knew it would be one of those footballer books where the incumbent would talk up his exploits, good and bad, to shift some copies. But I liked the guy as a player and thought this would be naughty enough to have a look. The football book I rally want to read is We all Live in a Perry Groves World, but the library didnt have it in yet.
This is easy to read with quick chapters to pace things and you dont get bored as its not one of those sports reads where you have 100 pages of the protagonists journey to 16 and the first pro game etc...
Robbies writing style is honest and aggressive (very street),and although hes not the sharpest tool in the box ,contradicting himself many times in the book through his emotions, he does get himself across well, and the life of that early mega rich footballer lifestyle that Sky created. The transition from terrace hero to millionaire is a laid out bare here.
Liverpool fans will love this book whilst other fans will appreciate the guys talents and his contribution to the game. As Liverpool are going to win the league this year, and I have a fiver on each-way, I would recommend Liverpool fans should read this, if just not to break the hex. Its exciting times at Anfield again and ir was Robbie Fowler that took Liverpool from old to new. A good footballing autobiography is ideal for autumn/winter and this in one of those. And whats better is hes a Sky generation player that waited until he had retired to write his memoirs, not bring part one out at 19...
In recent months it would seem the urge for Footballers to write their autobiography has gone through the roof. The likes of Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and even Wayne Rooney have released their stories on the unsuspecting market. They were probably all signed up before the World Cup as a just in case they win it contingency by publishes. Ive always thought though that footballers should wait to the end of their careers before writing one. Although hes not at the end of his career I recently was given a copy of Robbie Fowlers book and thought it might be worth a read.
Robbie isnt at the end of his career and certainly wasnt when he wrote the book almost 2 years ago but he had been playing football for over 12 years as a professional. I dont really have any feelings towards Liverpool or either of Fowlers other clubs but he was one of the first Sky TV recognisable footballers, a point he makes during this book. So for me he is one of my earliest memories of the Premiership and a player whos been there since I started watching Live Premiership football. So it was for that reason I quite fancied reading about Robbies career that has taken him from Liverpool to Man City via a short stay in Leeds.
Ive read a few autobiographies over the years and Ive found them to be interesting enough but I thought a lot of them lacked passion and that personal touch. In Fowlers there is plenty of that personal touch as he writes this in a very similar way to how he actually talks. It hasnt been written in perfect English and is full of all the slang and coarse language that he deems necessary. While I can understand people saying there is no need for swearing I think it helps to add Character to Fowlers story.
Throughout the book I really got the impression that Fowler was quite a private person. He sticks mostly to his football career, although there are parts about his family. In the most part though he uses the book to clear up certain misconceptions about himself, including what seems like a rather unjustified accusations of drug abuse. Id always seen Fowler in the way the media portrayed him but this book really helps to clear up a lot of misconceptions that I, and possibly a lot of other people held about him.
Of particular interest are his tales about the people hes worked with. He makes a number of positive comments about 3 of his 4 Liverpool managers and also a number of fellow pros. Of particular interest were his comments about the fourth of those managers, Gerrard Houllier, who he believes tried to force him out of the club he loved. He also reveals details about his time in the England squad and his opinions on England managers over the years.
I thought that Fowlers story made for very interesting reading and really held my attention throughout. Its an interesting story and takes you from his roots in Toxteth through his entire career. If there was one fault in the book Id say it was Fowler trying so hard to put a different spin on the reputation his childhood home Toxteth has. In the end that becomes a little much and although its clear hes proud to be from Toxteth he takes it a little too far at times. I also feel the personal approach, complete with Scouse slang, will put people off reading this book.
Overall though I would recommend Fowlers autobiography. While I am still a firm believer that a player should leave it till their career is over it did make for interesting reading. My only regret is the copy I have doesnt include the revised edition released after his return to his beloved Liverpool. That aside its a fascinating story and one I have thoroughly enjoyed reading. While Ive read a number of autobiographies, very few of those have been football ones, but Fowlers will probably be the first of many.
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