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FLASHBACK: 25 years since Robbie Fowler’s four-minute hat-trick against Arsenal

On a sun-kissed August afternoon at Anfield, a quarter of a century ago, Robbie Fowler announced his exhilarating talent to English football.

Four minutes and 33 seconds is it all it took for a precocious 19-year-old from Toxteth to dismantle one of the most vaunted defences in the land.

Fowler’s famous hat-trick has since been eclipsed by Sadio Mane, though his astonishing two-minute-56-second burst in May 2015 came against Tim Sherwood’s dismal Aston Villa side.

Robbie Fowler celebrates the second of his three goals against Arsenal on August 28, 1994

Robbie Fowler celebrates the second of his three goals against Arsenal on August 28, 1994

MATCH FACTS 

Liverpool: James, Jones, Nicol, Ruddock, Bjornebye, McManaman, Redknapp, Molby (Thomas 57), Barnes, Rush, Fowler

Subs not used: Stensgaard, Matteo

Goalscorers: Fowler 26, 29, 31  

Arsenal: Seaman, Dixon, Keown, Adams, Winterburn, Jensen (Linighan 74), Merson (Davis 74), Schwarz, Smith, Wright, Campbell

Subs not used: Bartram

Booked: Keown, Wright, Davis

Referee: Martin Bodenham 

Mane faced a 39-year-old Shay Given, Leandro Bacuna, Jores Okore, Ron Vlaar and Alan Hutton. 

But on that day 25 years ago Arsenal had David Seaman in goal and three-quarters of George Graham’s famous 1989 defence in Tony Adams, Nigel Winterburn and Lee Dixon. The fourth member was Martin Keown.

By August 1994 Fowler was already a player brimming with potential. It had been a meteoric rise from scoring on his senior debut in September 1993 to then scoring all five in a League Cup win over Fulham just two weeks later.

His first league hat-trick came in just his fifth league appearance, against Southampton. He finished his debut season as the club’s leading scorer ahead of the legendary Ian Rush.

But the events of that August afternoon, as Fowler’s Liverpool won 3-0 at Anfield, were still a seismic shock in English football. This kind of thing simply didn’t happen.

Fowler recognises the afternoon as the day the 'God' nickname began to stick at Anfield

Fowler recognises the afternoon as the day the ‘God’ nickname began to stick at Anfield

THE FAST SHOW

Goal 1 — 25min 58sec

Goal 2 — 28min 42sec

Goal 3 — 30min 31sec

TOTAL TIME: 4min 33sec

25 minutes 58 seconds 

Jamie Redknapp whips a free-kick towards the Arsenal area. Keown rises to clear the ball but mistimes his jump, allowing it to drop. It bounces inadvertently off Ian Rush and away from Dixon allowing an unmarked Fowler to lash home a first-time shot with that trusty left boot. He peels away in celebration, exuberant as Anfield adores him.

28 minutes 42 seconds 

Arsenal are reeling. Whatever fortune there was surrounding the first goal, it is all Liverpool for the second. Steve McManaman collects the ball inside his own half and is afforded the freedom of Anfield as the Gunners backline backs off, backs off and then backs off some more, allowing him to take the ball to the edge of their area.

He draws in Dixon, allowing Fowler to peel off the back off him. He needs just one touch to control it and open the angle to his stronger side before sweeping a low shot across Seaman into the bottom corner.

Fowler held the record for the Premier League's fastest hat-trick for over 20 years

Fowler held the record for the Premier League’s fastest hat-trick for over 20 years

Liverpool's striker announced himself to English football with a four-and-a-half-minute treble

Liverpool’s striker announced himself to English football with a four-and-a-half-minute treble

30 minutes 31 seconds 

John Barnes exchanges passes with Stig-Inge Bjornebye down the left-hand side. Barnes looks up and chips a delicate ball over Adams for Fowler to run onto. Arsenal’s defence is high and Fowler is charging into the penalty area as he gets the ball under control. 

Seaman is out early and smothers his first attempt but the ball bounces off the England goalkeeper. The covering defender, Keown, clatters into Seaman. Fowler belies his young years with the maturity of a seasoned goalscorer, controlling the ball on the touchline with his left before whipping it into the far corner as Winterburn charges across to attempt a heroic block.

ONE MISTAKE, HE’D PUNISH YOU 

Twenty-five years ago today, me and my Arsenal team-mates were caught up in a storm at Anfield as Robbie Fowler — just 19 at the time — scored three times in four minutes. It does not feel like it was a quarter of a century ago, let me tell you.

Watching back the footage of that 3-0 defeat yesterday, you had to admire Fowler. His presence would cause panic. He was an opportunist. We were in England squads together and I’m not sure I worked with a more natural finisher. Give him a sniff and he’d score, and that is what happened on August 28, 1994.

Looking back, this match may have come too soon for me. I remember I’d suffered a bad calf injury in pre-season. In our first Premier League fixture of the season against Manchester City, I came on in the 89th minute. In our second fixture, I came on in the 62nd. 

Then in our third, I’m starting against Liverpool. Fowler took full advantage. Sometimes, though, you just have to applaud a fantastic finisher doing what he does best.

The first goal, I went for a wild header against Ian Rush and the ball ricocheted into the feet of Fowler. He was in the right place at the right time, and buried his shot beyond David Seaman. Like I said, one mistake, and he would punish you.

The second goal, our defence was backing off. Fowler knew he had to get the ball through Lee Dixon’s legs if he was to score. He did just that, and his shot went in off the post. Pure precision.

The third goal came when a coming together between me and Seaman left neither of us with the ball. It trickled through to Fowler, who completed his hat-trick.

What is it about left footers and the way they finish? Look at Lionel Messi and Mohamed Salah. Fowler knew how to open up his body and make the goal seem enormous. What a striker he was and a good guy to boot.

By Martin Keown 

‘It was then that the God nickname began to stick,’ remembers Fowler in his autobiography. ‘My life had already changed but it gathered pace after that.’

He was already idolised at Anfield. Now he was worshipped. 

And it provided one of the iconic Martin Tyler moments. As Fowler picked up the loose ball from Seaman’s initial save and kept his head to bury into the far corner from an acute angle, the commentator boomed: ‘He’s away again, is this going to be the hat-trick? It could still be, IT ISSSSS!!’ 

It remains one of the defining moments in Premier League history. Back then the competition was a very different beast from the behemoth it is today.

Fowler collides with David Seaman and Martin Keown on the way to completing his hat-trick

Fowler collides with David Seaman and Martin Keown on the way to completing his hat-trick

Ian Rush embraces the 19-year-old Fowler as McManaman rushes in to celebrate

Ian Rush embraces the 19-year-old Fowler as McManaman rushes in to celebrate

Wet Wet Wet’s Love is All Around sat atop the British charts that summer, but there wasn’t a lot of love going around for English football.

The national team had failed to qualify for the World Cup in the USA and the scars of hooliganism and tragedy that dogged the sport in the 1980s remained in the forefront of the national consciousness for the game.

It was players and personalities like Fowler, and moments like that afternoon, beamed into the living rooms of millions across the country on Sky Sports, that helped shift the sport’s perception here.

It wasn’t just Robbie Fowler’s career that was shaped that afternoon. 

Original article: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-7400249/FLASHBACK-25-years-Robbie-Fowlers-four-minute-33-second-hat-trick-against-Arsenal.html?ns_mchannel=rss&ito=1490&ns_campaign=1490

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