Norwich City top 100 appearances – Mark Bowen (9): The left-back who scored that famed ‘fantasy football’ goal against Bayern Munich
399 appearances, 27 goals
Mark Bowen fell agonisingly short of joining the esteemed 400 club at Norwich City during an exceptional spell of success for the Canaries – scoring one of the club’s most important goals.
Signed by Ken Brown from Tottenham for £90,000 as a 23-year-old, the Welshman scored twice in 20 appearances for Spurs as he was converted from a midfielder to a full-back and that versatility continued with City.
He played in a number of positions during his nine seasons, including as a sweeper and a forward, and was known as a full-back with genuine attacking ability.
Bowen’s debut came in a 1-0 home defeat to Southampton in the top flight, at Carrow Road in August 1987, and he went on to score twice in 31 games during his first season in Norfolk – as Dave Stringer took over from Brown mid-season and kept City clear of relegation trouble.
His first goal for the club came against West Ham on New Year’s Day 1988, in a 4-1 home win in the First Division, and his goal contributions would continue.
He became the established left-back the following season, missing just four matches, scoring once in 45 games and starting every match as City reached their first FA Cup semi-final in 30 years, losing 1-0 to Everton at Villa Park, and finished fourth in the top flight.
Bowen’s best season in front of goal followed, in 1989-90, when he chipped in with seven goals in 47 matches to result in him being named player of the season and lifting the Barry Butler Memorial Trophy.
He scored just once in 47 games the following campaign but took over as captain for the closing months of the season as relegation was avoided and continued throughout 1991-92, leading the Canaries out at Hillsborough as another FA Cup semi-final was secured, losing 1-0 to Sunderland, scoring four in 46 games in total.
As with so many of the players of his Canaries era though, it was 1992-93 that was the crowning glory, with Bowen starting and finishing every match as Mike Walker’s team finished third in the Premiership.
That brought European football and, just like long-term team-mates Bryan Gunn, Ian Culverhouse and Ian Crook, he took to the big stage like a Canary to a coal mine.
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Missing just one match of that campaign and playing in each of the six Uefa Cup games, Bowen scored six goals in 53 matches – including a rather special header.
That famous 2-1 win over Bayern Munich at the Olympic Stadium, the greatest night in the history of Norwich City, will always be remembered for Jeremy Goss’s wonderful volley.
It was Bowen who stole possession to trigger that move though and it was the full-back’s attacking instincts that put City 2-0 ahead, getting in behind Brazilian right-back Jorginho to get his head to a Crook free-kick after Chris Sutton had caused some aerial havoc, sparking a wonderful commentary moment from John Motson.
The BBC man said: “A chance on the far post and it’s in, Mark Bowen, and Norwich are two up – this is almost fantasy football.”
The story from that famous night, of eventual loss to Inter Milan and the financial and off-field meltdown, is known all too well and at 32 years old Bowen wasn’t able to prevent relegation to Division One under John Deehan in 1995.
He remained a regular under Martin O’Neill but was left hanging one short of his 400th game after Gary Megson took over, courtesy of a personality clash, and was let go on a free transfer in 1996 as City’s wage bill was cut.
The Wales international, who won 35 of his 41 caps with Norwich, returned to the Premiership with West Ham and scored once in 20 games before heading to Japan in January 1997 when he was signed by Ossie Ardiles for around £1million.
Bowen returned shortly after the start of the 1997-98 season though, making his debut for Charlton as a substitute in a 4-0 win at Carrow Road and playing a key part as Alan Curbishley led the Addicks to the top flight via the play-off final.
Just a handful of appearances followed though and Bowen wound down his career with brief spells in the lower leagues with Wigan and Reading.
He has since faced the Canaries as a coach on many occasions. After working as Mark Hughes’ assistant with Wales he joined Steve Bruce at Birmingham and was on the sidelines ay the Millennium Stadium as City were beaten on penalties in Cardiff in 2002, before reuniting with Hughes at Blackburn in 2004 and following him to Manchester City, Fulham QPR and Stoke.