The injury rollercoaster 'will he, won't he return' that Stuart Holden has endured in the last few years has been widely discussed by Wanderers fans and the wider footballing world. The American international, fed up with the constant rumours around whether he will ever return to the game, has posted an article and video on The Players' Tribune where he describes his absence as being like "you're the kid that goes to Disneyland with all your friends and can't go on all the rides."
The video starts with a close-up on the scars Stu has as a reminder of his various injuries, where he points out "this one's Jonny Evans, this one's Nigel De Jong, I've got a Hall of Fame on my leg," before his physical trainer, Holly Silvers, shows the lasting effects of the surgery and knee reconstruction he has endured. It's nothing short of amazing that Stu's knee is still in one piece, let alone he can still walk, run and potentially be able to play football again.
Stu talks about the tough times he's been through and explains that he's sick of people talking about 'the Stuart Holden comeback,' and that if he was writing about it then he would have stopped a long time ago.
But that isn't to say he's given up on playing again - far from it. Holden is more determined than ever to prove the doubters wrong: his body is fit and strong, he's passing physical tests in the gym and on the pitch, and he believes he still has more to give. He states:
"If I post a picture of doing anything other than gym work then people say 'you're not working hard enough,' but I really want to invite them in here and yell mean tweets at them as they're doing my workout to see how they do. The daily struggle is more than a physical battle, it's a mental battle as well and people don't see the day-to-day and they don't need to - I just know that those people who have bet against me are going to lose."
Indeed, Silvers says that although Stu has come back from an inordinate number of injuries, from a biological point of view his knee looks pristine, and she has backed him to have another comeback. The big battle Stu faces is the mental element, and whether he can ever be fully prepared for a return.
He freely admits that he has considered 'the R word,' retirement, and has questioned whether he's done in the last year or so, but remains determined not to let it beat him. He says:
"A lot of people refer to it as 'that kid was great but he didn't fully fulfil his potential because injuries ruined that,' but I want them to say 'he was great but he got injured and he worked his way back and he's an inspiration to many."
It's great to see Stu remaining so determined, he's had immensely bad luck and it's sad to see such a great player missing out on the prime years of his career - for his personal ambitions, for the misfortune of Bolton Wanderers and as a fan who loved watching him play. It's easy to forget that he was voted the Premier League's best player in the first half of 2010, just weeks before he was crudely crocked by Jonny Evans, and it's a shame for the league that we've been robbed of his talents.
I'm sure I speak for all Bolton fans when I say I'd love to see Stu back fit and playing football, ideally at the Macron, and wish him the best of luck with the continued recovery.
Watch Stu's video in full below, and read his article here: