Those of us who like our sport infused with a healthy dash of romance
took great heart from the weekend news that Robbie Fowler is going home
to Liverpool.

Fowler is one of Liverpool’s most adored sons.
He scored on his senior debut for the club in 1993, bagged five in a
Cup game a
couple of weeks later and by the late 1990s was the most feared striker
in England. He was a local lad who was openly passionate
about playing for Liverpool, and his occasional brushes with
officialdom both on and off the
field simply confirmed the fans’ belief that Robbie was really just a
lad like
them. They still call him “God.”

Fowler fell out with manager Gerard
Houllier around the turn of the millennium and he was sold to Leeds for around $26 million in 2001,
then moved to Manchester City for over $14 million three years ago. Neither union proved successful.

Now he’s back at Anfield after manager Rafa
Benitez secured a stunning coup, taking Fowler – for free – for six months with
a view to a possible longer-term deal if things work out.

Yes it’s a risk, though more so for Fowler
than Benitez. It will cost Liverpool little, and will provide their occasionally limp strikeforce with
the services of a man who is still arguably the most natural finisher in the
game. And even though Fowler’s in decline, he’s still only 30.

But forget the merits or otherwise of the
transfer: it’s the sentiment of the whole thing that we love. Fowler had never
wanted to leave in the first place, and now gets the chance to spend his final
top-flight years at the club he still loves. Benitez said he had never seen a
player so happy to be joining a club. Even Man City manager
Stuart Pearce, who had previously knocked back approaches for Fowler from
Everton, said it wouldn’t have been fair to stand in his way. “Liverpool are
his dream club and he wanted to rejoin them,” Pearce told Soccernet.

“If I refused him this
opportunity of fulfilling his ambition it would not be good for him or Manchester City.”

In an era where Premier League transfers
tend to be driven only by Lotto-like numbers, this is a refreshing change. No
money changing hands. Clubs doing the right thing by a player, and perhaps by
their fans. Irrespective of whether Fowler scores a hatful of goals in the
months ahead, there’s a lot to like about the process. And when he takes the
field some time during Liverpool’s game against Birmingham on Wednesday night, there’s every chance we’ll be able to hear the
Anfield roar on Sydney Harbour.