I made mistakes when I was young
Robbie Fowler is the Liverpool legend who scored 183 goals in 369 appearances for the Anfield side. Twice a winner of the PFA Young Player of the Year award, the former England striker won the treble with Liverpool before moving on to play to for Leeds, Manchester City, Cardiff and Blackburn. He also enjoyed spells in Thailand and Australia in the twilight of his career. In this Footballers' Football Column, Fowler tackles the big issues, including his moments of controversy, why he had to leave Liverpool, the shortage of English strikers and why Manchester United fans aren't too keen on him...
Footballers' Football column: Robbie Fowler
I did some silly things on the field and if I could take them back, then I would. I probably feel, though, that the sniffing incident and what happened with Graeme Le Saux have probably been held against me a little bit too much at times.
I've apologised to Graeme, one that he’s accepted. I was a young lad and stupid come to mind. But it happened, and if I could go back and change, I certainly would.
'Sniffing the line' was a celebration that I did after scoring for Liverpool in a Merseyside derby against Everton. I felt it got a little bit out of hand.
A big deal was made out of it and I now understand why. I was taking stick at the time and I felt it was the only way I could get back at those people. You ask about regrets and of course there are these silly things that I would change but I have learned from them and that's the most important thing.
I don't think I was prepared for all the fame and attention when I broke through at Liverpool. I came through just as the Premier League started so I was a young lad and there was more publicity surrounding us than ever before.
Being honest, I did struggle to adapt and I could not understand why people wanted a bit of me. I just wanted to go out there and play football. I was not prepared for the position of being a role model. Obviously I did some stupid things.
It is not until you are older that you realise that you are a role model, whether you like it or not. I didn't really understand that side of the sport. Maybe it was because I was young and thrust into the limelight.
I did want to leave Liverpool in 2001 but only because I wasn't playing. I know people tend to make a big thing about myself and Gerard Houllier falling out...but I fell out with every manager!
I was never one of these players who wanted to stay on the bench and collect money. I was forever knocking on the manager's door. That's just me, I wanted to play. When I realised I wasn't going to play, it was my decision to leave.
It was not a big 'we'll never talk to each other again' falling out. I wanted to play and he didn't play me all the time. It doesn't mean I dislike Houllier.
I was desperate to play but the manager can only play X amount of players. Ultimately, if you are not in his eleven, then people think you have fallen out. When you are not playing, everyone looks for a bit of drama and ammunition.
As you become older, you are wiser within football and realise that not everything revolves around you, which was maybe how I felt when I was younger. I am now more switched on, that little bit more clever and I realise that there is more to football than just turning up and playing. It is such a big picture. I wish I had known then what I now know today.
The Liverpool team of the nineties was confident. A lot was made out of those white suits! If we'd have won the FA Cup Final, they'd have been the best suits in the world. But we lost, so it was the opposite.
Players will always have a little bit of arrogance. You needed confidence to pull off wearing those suits! It was not ideal, I never chose them - I was just a young lad!
I know who did and I won't name them because they have had enough stick as it is. It was a little bit of a break away from the norm, maybe the players were ahead of the times...
Daniel Sturridge is brilliant. It is a good sign for Liverpool that without Luis Suarez, Liverpool have won six of seven Premier League games. The partnership with Suarez, Coutinho and a few other players will be a sight to behold because they are superb players. Daniel has fantastic feet, his movement is good, he can hold the ball up and he can score special goals.
I was lucky enough to train with Daniel when I was at Manchester City. He was a young lad and about 15 at the time. You could see then how good he was going to become. He had a little bit of everything.
There is a certain type of arrogance there that makes him such a good player. You always worried a touch about his attitude because he has been at a few clubs and hadn't really settled. He has come to Liverpool and he has now taken to the club and the fans have taken to him.
I think and hope Liverpool will surprise many teams this year and sneak into the top four. They have had a good start but nobody is getting carried away.
We have not been top of the league for a long, long time but there is now a light at the end of the tunnel. Brendan Rodgers is building a fantastic team and I think he's an unbelievable young manager and he is getting his philosophies and beliefs into Liverpool and the crowd have really taken to it. I can see happy things happening for Liverpool with Brendan.
I would really like to get into management. I had a spell in Thailand as player-manager and I enjoyed it. It gave me a taste and wetted the appetite. I am not going to sit here and say I will be the best manager in the world but I am willing to learn and get better.
I am exactly the same I was a player. You have no divine right to be the best - you have to work hard. I am in the middle of my A-license at the moment and I am willing to do anything to become a manager.
I didn't go to Australia and Thailand for the money. I wasn't earning a shed-load of money over there, comparative to how much players have earned going to America. I went over there for a new challenge and it worked out well for me.
I had started to find it difficult to play two or three games week in England with my injury problems. In Australia, I played one game a week and my fitness and form was good. I enjoyed playing in the sun and I took my family over. We were in a hot country and we could put a t-shirt and shorts on every morning. There was a little bit of a holiday mentality and you feel great. Ultimately, I was over there to do a job and I think I did well.
I think in many people's eyes there are too many overseas players in the Premier League. Football is such a massive business and everybody wants to win things immediately. We need to go all the way down to grassroots and find our own identity rather than copying others.
We have to get our blueprint right. People want success and they want it straight away. There are many good English players out there but there are also many talented foreigners who have proven themselves in the biggest leagues and at international level. They want to come over here and be a success.
We have so few English strikers coming through these days and I wonder if it is down to formations. Everyone wants to play a 4-2-3-1 formation, with just the one striker. We had so many talented English strikers in the nineties, with Alan Shearer, Teddy Sheringham, Andy Cole, Les Ferdinand, Ian Wright and Michael Owen but they were mostly playing in partnerships, too.
Now, there is the No 9 and the No 10. The 10 plays behind the nine so they are never really playing as a genuine partnership. That might have hindered the number of forwards coming through. You can only play the one so youngsters may be thinking of playing somewhere else because there is just the one striking position up for grabs. That may have something to do with it.
I have played in the lone striker role and my game was not really suited to that. If I were playing now, I would try to play in the number 10 position.
As much as I was recognised more for my goals, I'd like to think I could play outside the box too. In fact, I don't think - I know I could have done. That's not being big-headed or egotistical. I was confident in what I could do. I could create chances and do things other than score goals.
I played for Liverpool, Leeds and Manchester City - I can understand why Manchester United fans don't like me! It's just the way it goes. Leeds is a big club with a massive fan base. When I went there, we were top of the Premier League for a short space of time.
When everything happened with the financial struggles, it was only really Manchester City that came in for me. At first, I didn't really enjoy my time there but I grew to like it and the fans deserve the success they are now getting.
They put up with so much - it's not so long ago that they were playing in the third tier of English football. They were still getting 30,000 back then. It has been a dramatic rise and I am delighted for them.
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