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On This Day 2010: Stu Holden Signs for Bolton

"Once you learn to quit, it becomes a habit." - Stuart Holden

Jamie McDonald

I know, incredible, right?

Four years ago today, American midfielder Stuart Alistair Holden signed for Bolton Wanderers.

Holden had spent several weeks training in England following the end of the 2009 Major League Soccer season, first with Burnley, under the watchful eye of then-manager Owen Coyle, before following the Scottish boss to a proper club when the latter was appointed as manager of Bolton Wanderers.

After a month or so spent getting up to match fitness, Holden made his Bolton debut in a 4-0 away defeat to Tottenham Hotspur in the FA Cup - playing 90 minutes. Despite the heavy defeat, Holden's willing running and accurate passing saw him stand out.

He made his first league appearance, wearing the no.25 shirt, on 27 February 2010, again playing the full 90 minutes in a 1-0 victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers at the Reebok Stadium following a 92nd minute goal from Zat Knight.

Holden finished his debut season at Bolton having made two league appearances and one in the FA Cup.

That September, he signed a new contract at Bolton, which would keep him at the club until 2013.

He would begin the following season in great form, scoring his first goal for Bolton away to Wolverhampton Wanderers in November 2010.

The goal came in an unbeaten November, and amidst an exciting game in which Bolton raced into a 3-0 lead through a Stearman own goal, a Johan Elmander solo effort and Holden's strike, before Wolves pulled back two goals.

Holden's next goal came in a famous 2-1 win at home to local rivals Blackburn Rovers, then managed by Sam Allardyce. Bolton led through a rare Fabrice Muamba goal until the 88th minute when former Manchester United striker Mame Biram Diouf equalised for Rovers.

However, straight from kick-off, Holden raced onto a Kevin Davies flick-on and buried past Paul Robinson to give Bolton the points and usher Allardyce closer to the exit door.

However, his season was cut short in March after he suffered a knee injury against Manchester United at Old Trafford when going into a tackle with Jonny Evans.

Evans' studs caught Holden in the left knee, leaving a gash that required twenty six stitches and a fracture of the femur near the knee joint, which ruled him out for a minimum of six months.

Such was Holden's form before this terrible injury, he was still voted the 2011 Bolton Wanderers Player of the Year. With Holden, Bolton had been in seventh place. Without him we dropped like a stone to finish in 14th position.

After six months of rehab, Holden made his comeback, playing 90 minutes against Aston Villa in the third round of the League Cup, but was then initially ruled out for a further six weeks as the club brought forward a routine follow up procedure.

In a terrible twist of fate, the procedure revealed extensive knee cartilage damage, which meant that Holden would be out for a further six months and would miss the rest of the season.

Without his influence in midfield, Bolton Wanderers were relegated to the Championship after 11 years in the Premier League.

After playing in a reserve match in early January 2013, Holden made his return to Bolton's first team some 16 months after his last appearance, coming on as a late substitute in their 2-0 FA Cup replay win against his former club Sunderland.

Holden joined fellow Championship Team Sheffield Wednesday on a months loan in March, for match fitness and made his debut in a home game with Barnsley. He returned to Bolton having made four appearances for Wednesday.

At the end of the season, he was given a new one-year contract at Bolton Wanderers, and the future seemed bright at long last.

As part of this latest round of rehabilitation, he was named in the USMNT squad for the CONCACAF Gold Cup. He played his part in the run up to the Final, but again disaster struck when he was injured early in the game. It was later revealed he had suffered a torn ACL.

Shortly after, Bolton Wanderers announced that the midfielder would likely miss the majority of the 2013-14 season.

In December 2013, he spoke to the Bolton News and said:

"It's nice when I get messages from people who do believe and want to see me succeed because they will be the ones who are standing by my side when I do get back out on the pitch and show people what I can do again.

"I know that my playing time hasn't been what I or anyone else wanted but I fully believe I have prepared myself this time.

"My attitude is that I am going to be back out on that field and no longer be that cheerleader off the field - I want to be a leader on it for Bolton Wanderers."It's important with any long-standing injury to get away for a bit, and I've had a few so I know what I'm talking about," he said with a self-deprecating note.

"I want to be here. Sometimes when you do your work away from the club, no matter how much my personal trainer kept in touch, you never fully gauge where someone is at until they get their hands on me.

"Everyone has made the decision that it would be best for me now that I'm stepping up for some grass work and cardiovascular work that it's best to be at the club.

"Sparky (Mark Davies) went through it, all the running sessions, and I know they won't be fun but I am looking forward to putting in the miles to play at the level required.""I'm here with Bolton and if I can get back playing week-in, week-out I think I could make a good run at being in that team.

"Once you learn to quit, it becomes a habit."

Inspirational words from the fan-favourite.

Bolton manager Dougie Freedman has often said that he will not rush Holden back into first-team action despite the fan's desire to see him back in the side.

We all hope that Holden can return to the player that he once was.