Liverpool legend Robbie Fowler reflects on THAT hat-trick against Arsenal... And 20 years later it's still the fastest in Premier League history
The talk on Merseyside this week has been about the footballing enigma that is Mario Balotelli, but 20 years ago today the chatter centred on the emergence of a phenomenon.
It was on August 28, 1994, that Robbie Fowler wrote his name in the record books with the fastest Barclays Premier League hat-trick, plundering his treble against an Arsenal defence which contained David Seaman, Tony Adams and Martin Keown in just four minutes 33 seconds.
That devastating spell stamped the then 19-year-old Fowler as the most exciting young talent in the English game and ensured he was destined for a place in Anfield folklore; two decades on, it remains one of the Premier League’s most remarkable moments.
THE FAST SHOW
Robbie Fowler’s hat-trick against Arsenal at Anfield, August 28, 1994
Goal 1 — 25min 58sec
Goal 2 — 28min 42sec
Goal 3 — 30min 31sec
TOTAL TIME: 4min 33sec
‘Is it really that long?’ Fowler asks with a shake of the head, as he revisits that glorious afternoon when his professional life changed. ‘It’s probably the thing I’m known for most in the Premier League and it’s certainly the one I am most proud about.
‘I’ve moved down to sixth in the all-time scoring list and, honestly, that isn’t a problem.
'I don’t mind people taking over in terms of the goals they score, both in the Premier League and for Liverpool, but the hat-trick is the one achievement I want to stay as mine forever. It was some day.’
Liverpool had started the 1994-95 campaign with an eye-catching 6-1 win over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park but their next assignment, against George Graham’s Arsenal, was going to be the true test of their capabilities under Roy Evans.
On a glorious afternoon, both sides had started confidently in front of Sky’s cameras but midway through the first half, Fowler exploded into life, scrambling Arsenal’s senses and sparking pandemonium around Anfield, hosting its first game without the standing Kop.
26th minute: Jamie Redknapp’s right-wing cross bounces off Ian Rush and falls invitingly to Fowler.
Andy Gray on Sky: ‘They got a bit of luck there, Liverpool. But when it dropped to Fowler, on that left foot, was there ever going to be any end product but the net bulging? He doesn’t miss them.’
Fowler: ‘I remember the cross came in and I found myself in space after it came off Rushie. I didn’t think about what I was going to do. I just put my head down and hit it.’
29th minute: Liverpool turn defence into attack with Rob Jones setting Steve McManaman on a storming 60-yard run. As the winger moves forward with menace, Fowler starts to peel away.
Martin Tyler on Sky: ‘McManaman… Fowler, making a yard for himself… Is it going in? It is! Two in two minutes from Robbie Fowler and they’re going crazy here at Anfield!’
Fowler: ‘That was the best one. As Stevie Mac kept running, Arsenal’s defence kept dropping deep. Stevie and I had a great understanding and I knew if I made an angle, he would provide the pass. I managed to squeeze my shot through Lee Dixon’s legs and it left David Seaman unsighted.
31st minute: John Barnes swaps passes with Stig-Inge Bjornebye just inside Arsenal’s half and spies Fowler on the move. As Barnes delivers his lofted ball, Anfield senses history is in the making.
Martin Tyler: ‘And he’s away again here! Is this going to be the hat-trick?… It is!’
Andy Gray: ‘That’s incredible! How’s that for a cool head? Unbelievable stuff from Liverpool! Unbelievable stuff from Robbie Fowler!’
Fowler: ‘What I remember most about this was the noise. The old Kop had been demolished, so all the season-ticket holders had been moved to the Anfield Road end and the noise they made was incredible. When Barnesy put the ball through to me, I heard this roar go up as I was about to shoot.
‘Martin Keown and David Seaman tried to block my first effort but I got the bounce of the ball and I managed to turn it in from a tight angle. It was an amazing moment.’
Fowler (left) ended that season being named PFA’s Young Player of the Year. He also helped Liverpool win the League Cup, having scored 31 goals in 57 matches. There were many more great days but, as he looks back on what he calls his best of all in Red, there is one slight regret.
‘The ball,’ Fowler says. ‘I’ve got it somewhere in the house but I couldn’t tell you which one it is.
‘I kept all the hat-trick balls (he scored nine, second only to Alan Shearer). If I’m honest, I regret not marking that one. I got all the lads to sign it but there was no fuss.
‘If I had given it some thought, I should have made a point of writing the game and date on it.
‘Arsenal were a lucky team for me and I had a lot of good times, including winning the FA Cup in 2001.
‘But people still talk to me about that day. It’s great it is still remembered after all these years.’
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