Robbie Fowler was looking out over a field of dreams when Jamie Carragher suddenly took him back to the glory days.
“Do you remember what you did to Xabi Alonso?” Carragher said. ‘I say thing: it was like the trick that Pele does Escape to victory. It was a rainbow movement… you put it over Xabi’s head and rolled it into this little target. Everyone went crazy! ‘
With a smile, Fowler replied, “I can’t believe you remember that! I’ve been waiting for someone to say that for 15 years! It was the first time I ever drove a Melwood lap of honor when it came out. This was always a place where you felt special. ‘
Liverpool legends Jamie Carragher and Robbie Fowler have taken over the running of Melwood
Carragher and Fowler (pictured together in center) while training in Melwood in 2006
Carragher and Fowler have played together more than 1,000 times for the Reds and won multiple trophies with the Reds
Fowler and Carragher have shared many great moments in Liverpool’s legendary old training facility, but the one they met on Friday morning, back where it all started, has the potential to be the most important yet.
The two legends have struck a deal to become Melwood’s custodians after negotiating with Torus, the North West Housing and Regeneration Company who bought the historic West Derby lot from Liverpool in August 2019.
This is not just another business transaction or foray into real estate. Fowler and Carragher have combined their respective academies, which were located at the other ends of the city, to form a hub that will now operate out of Melwood.
Their ambition is to provide educational and sporting opportunities to teenagers throughout the Liverpool Metropolitan Area; this won’t be all about football either, as Olympians Steve Parry and Beth Tweddle will operate the respective swimming and gymnastics centers from the facility.
“We have deep roots in the city,” said Steve Coffey, Torus Chief Executive. Melwood is an iconic site. It was really important that we didn’t just build houses. We wanted to protect history. Maintaining a strong sporty relationship has always been high on our list of priorities. ‘
Liverpool received fierce criticism from local residents for how they handled the sale of a site that has been the heart of a community since 1950, so the two men who started their respective careers over 30 years ago were greeted with acclaim.
Jurgen Klopp’s first team left Melwood in November for a new £ 50 million complex
Liverpool struck a deal in 2019 to sell Melwood to property developer Torus for £ 10 million
Many will wonder why the future of a training ground has sparked so much discussion, but Fowler – sitting in what used to be the old players canteen – gave an explanation. It is a place as important as Anfield in the Liverpool story and the idea that it would be squashed left him desperate.
“We have been successful in different parts of the city with the things we do,” said Fowler, one of Liverpool’s biggest forwards. But to merge and come together to create something that can be even more successful is huge.
Everyone knows what Melwood is about. Everyone knows the history, the tradition. For us it will always have that link. It’s brilliant. Lots of other people are involved, not just the two of us. But it’s a great day for both of us. It is real.’
Carragher added: ‘Maybe (as a player) you took it for granted. You see it as a workplace. But it is much more than that. You may need the break to realize how special it is. I found that – when I walked around again I started taking pictures of things I walked past every day for 10 years! ‘
Olympic heroes Steve Parry and Beth Tweddle will also launch a sports center from the facility
Torus will build on part of the site, but they will be social care homes for people with dementia and the PFA is in talks with all parties about possibly buying an accommodation that former players living with the disease could use.
“ Now that we’re here as a joint academy, as ex-footballers we can help get on board with dementia projects, ” said Fowler. “The scope for us and the PFA, if possible, is broad and it is something we want to be involved in.”
Both men understand the importance of history. Carragher, who this week paid for a hip replacement for Chris Lawler – a giant of the 1960s Liverpool team – and Fowler plans to have a part of Melwood, the ‘Old Boot Room’, where former players can meet. meet and discuss old times.
It was something Fowler and Carragher loved to do yesterday morning; This weekend, 20 years ago, they were involved in completing the famous cup treble under Gerard Houllier and the fact that they were back home stirred the memories.
“Not bad for a boy from Toxteth and a boy from Bootle ‘by the sea’ … we have come a long way, right?” Carragher said.
“Yes,” said Fowler. ‘Who would have thought that! However, it is important that we both gave opportunities and seized them. So it is good that we can give others a chance in the future. ‘