Holden making waves at Bolton

Stuart Holden - boy done good

As the match came to a close, Blackburn’s late pressure seemingly paid dividend.

Bolton’s hopes of three points looked to have been curtailed in the 87th minute when a superb back-header by Jason Roberts played in Mame Biram Diouf to squirt a left-footed effort past Jussi Jaaskelainen at the Reebok Stadium.

The equaliser was just reward for Rovers’ fighting spirit, although it merely provided a platform for the confidence inherent in Owen Coyle’s side to shine through.

Just moments after conceding, a lofted ball forward fell kindly to Stuart Holden and he drilled home a stunning drive to secure victory for 10-man Bolton.

“I’ve probably watched it 50 times since and my reaction after we scored and how happy I was is something else,” said Holden.

“I knew how much it meant to the fans, with it being the derby and with us being so disappointed that we had just given up a goal.

“That sums up the spirit of our team. We just put the ball down and, straight off the kick-off, bang it forward.

“Don’t dwell on the fact we just gave up a goal. It just kind of fell for me and is probably the best goal I’ve scored, right up there with the one against Haiti.”

The goal against the Haitians was a long-range blast in the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup for the United States national team, which came during his spell with Houston Dynamo.

In little over a year, though, Holden has come a long way.

The midfielder was picked up by Bolton on a free transfer in January but saw his hopes of making an impact for club and country effectively dashed when he suffered a broken leg in a friendly in March.

However, Holden is now one of the most in-form players in the Barclays English Premier League and has proven an integral part of Bolton’s rise up the standings.

“I got Stuart for nothing in January but he had a leg break and missed two months of the season and the World Cup,” said manager Coyle.

“I believe had Stuart played in those two months he would probably have started in the World Cup for America and gone on from where he is now.

“We missed Stuart in two recent games because he just gets better. He showed a real quality and he has got a real tenacity to go with it.”

While he may be tipped for the top, it was not so long ago that his career was hanging in the balance.

Having been born in Aberdeen, Scotland, Holden was brought up in Texas from the age of 10 and played two years of college football with Clemson University before moving to England.

Holden joined Sunderland in March 2005 while still in his teens but failed to make an appearance for the Black Cats after he was savagely attacked outside a bar, which left him with a fractured eye socket and his career in doubt.

The central midfielder admits the injury, coupled with a short-term contract, meant he was “kind of left in limbo” and he duly went back to America to join Major League Soccer outfit Houston Dynamo

Holden flourished with the Texas-based club, helping them win the MLS Cup during a three-and-a-half-year spell that earned him a second tilt at a career in England.

The 25-year-old looked to have the world at his feet when he joined Bolton earlier this year but, like so many times before, he suffered another blow.

After a brief cameo in the Trotters’ first team, Manchester City’s Nigel de Jong curtailed his debut EPL season with a crude tackle in an international match that ended his campaign and thwarted dreams of a big part in the World Cup.

Holden did, however, make one appearance in South Africa – helping to secure a 1-1 draw with England – and refuses to look back at what could have been.

“If I look back, for every bad thing that’s happened, or knock I’ve taken, I’ve come back stronger,” he said. “The night of the attack, I was waiting with my brother for a taxi and I got blindside punched. I was left with double vision for two months.

“I had to have surgery on my eye. It was a blow-out fracture, which is one in a thousand – the muscle in your eye gets caught when it fractures, so your eye can’t look up or down. These guys were from Newcastle and we were from Sunderland, but I can’t say if it had anything to do with football rivalry.

“People asked me if I’d go back to England after it happened, but it didn’t deter me from wanting to come back or scare me. I just put it down to bad luck.

“It was the same with the broken leg with Nigel de Jong. I’d just broken into the team here and it really bummed me out. But I’ve put that behind me and I’m just focused on the future.”

With Coyle at the helm and Holden driving the midfield, the future looks bright for Bolton.

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One thought on “Holden making waves at Bolton

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