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The man they called God
Fowler: My Autobiography - Robbie Fowler
Member Name: markysparky
Fowler: My Autobiography - Robbie Fowler
Advantages: Good insight into a Premiership superstar's life and career
Disadvantages: Overlong, can be repetitive at times
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.
Summary: A good read for true footy fans, whatever team they support
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