North Queensland Fury sign former Liverpool great Fowler

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Australian A-League football (soccer) club North Queensland Fury announced the signing of former Liverpool FC striker Robbie Fowler for their debut season. Fowler will be their marquee player—meaning his wages fall outside the salary cap—as announced at a press conference held by their owner and chairman, Don Matheson. Fowler signed with the club on a two-season deal, for undisclosed terms, which will see him at the Fury until at least the end of the 2010-2011 season.

North Queensland, who will start their competitive history in the 2009-10 A-League season beginning later this year, have had trouble securing a marquee player, after Brazilian Cássio withdrew from negotiations at the last minute to re-sign with Adelaide United. Jade North asked for a release from his freshly-signed North Queensland contract to pursue a future with Incheon United after only five weeks.

Fowler, who was nicknamed "God" by Liverpool fans following his amazing feats for the Merseyside club—128 goals in 266 matches across two periods with the club—left English Premier League club Blackburn Rovers in December and was a free agent. He has been capped 26 times for England at senior level, most recently at the 2002 FIFA World Cup, and is the fourth-highest goal-scorer in the 17-season history of the Premier League.

The 33-year-old was announced as in talks with the club in mid-January, and met with Matheson and inaugural Fury manager Ian Ferguson in Townsville for an inspection before flying back to England on January 22 to discuss the move with his family. "I had nothing but good things to tell my family about the football side of things and the lifestyle opportunities North Queensland can offer us," Fowler was quoted as saying.

The signing is a huge boost for the club, who will enter the A-League later this calendar year along with fellow expansion club Gold Coast United, also based in Queensland. Gold Coast, who have secured current Socceroos midfielder Jason Čulina as their marquee player, are largely viewed as the more glamorous of the two, however owner Matheson said this signing went a long way to redressing that.

"Robbie is a legitimate international super star of the game and there’s no doubt he will give us every chance of winning," Matheson said.