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Bolton vs Sheffield United: Played For Both Clubs - Nathan Blake

A look at the career of former Sheffield United and Bolton striker, Nathan Blake.

Ahead of Bolton's first game of the season against Sheffield United, here's a look at the career of former Blade and Wanderers player, Nathan Blake.

Nathan Blake, born 27th January 1972, began his footballing career as a youth player with Newport County and Chelsea, before moving on to sign for Cardiff City in 1990.

DID YOU KNOW: Before becoming a professional footballer, Nathan Blake was prosecuted for stealing from a fruit machine in London. Guess he didn't want to 'spin and win'.

Blake quickly became a fans favourite at Ninian Park, and scored eleven times in the 1992/1993 season to help Cardiff gain promotion to the Second Division (League One). Blake went on to score fourteen times in the 1993/1994 season for Cardiff, including a screamer against Manchester City in the FA Cup.

This from attracted attention from other clubs, and it was this weekend's opponents, the then Premier League Sheffield United, who signed Blake for £300,000 in February 1994. In four years with hometown club Cardiff, Nathan Blake scored 40 goals in 164 games.

Despite scoring five goals for Sheffield in the 93/94 season, Blake couldn't prevent The Blades relegation from the top flight. Blake went on to be Sheffield's top goalscorer in both the 1994/1995 and 1995/1996 seasons, but United didn't mount a serious push for promotion back to the Premier League.

Whilst with Sheffield United, Nathan Blake made his debut for Wales, and went on to score four times in twenty-nine games for his country.

In December 1995, after scoring 35 goals in 75 games for Sheffield United, Blake moved to Premier League side Bolton Wanderers for a fee of £1.2 million.

In 2011, Nathan Blake declared his hatred for Sheffield United. He stated: "Personally, I’ve got no love for that club and it would give me nothing but pleasure to see Cardiff be the side to all but consign them to relegation.

It was made out that I was jumping ship when I left for Bolton which wasn’t near the truth at all and, despite all I’d done for them, the Blades fans gave me nothing but abuse after I left, a lot of it personal and out of order."

Blake didn't have the best start to his Wanderers career. He only managed to score once in eighteen games in the 1995/1996 season, as Bolton were relegated to the First Division after finishing rock bottom of the Premier League.

The 1996/1997 season proved to be Blake's best with Bolton. The Welshman scored 25 goals in all competitions as Bolton were crowned First Division Champions, gaining promotion back to the Premier League at the first time of asking.

Blake went on to have his best season in the Premier League whilst with Bolton. Blake scored 12 goals in the 1997/1998 season, but couldn't prevent Bolton from suffering relegation again, as they finished 18th, whilst Everton stayed up at their expense due to having a better goal difference.

In October 1998, Blake moved back to the Premier League to join Wanderers' rivals, Blackburn Rovers, for a fee of £4.25 million. In total for Bolton, Blake played 124 times, scoring 48 goals.

Once again, Blake suffered relegation from the Premier League in the 1998/1999 season, after only managing three goals for Blackburn in the top flight.

Blake's time at Ewood Park wasn't as successful or prolific as his spells at Sheffield and Bolton, managing only thirteen league goals in a three year spell. Blake did help Blackburn to gain promotion back to the Premier League in 2001, and despite starting and scoring for Rovers on the opening day of the 2001/2002 season, Blake moved back down to the First Division to join Wolverhampton Wanderers for £1.5 million.

Blake spent three years with Wolves, and scored in Wolves' 3-0 Play-Off final win against former club Sheffield United, meaning another promotion back to the Premier League for Blake.

Unfortunately for Blake, Wolves only spent one year in the top flight, meaning that Nathan Blake holds the record for most relegations from the Premier League. Blake left the club in acrimonious circumstances, having fallen out of favour, Blake fell out with manager Dave Jones after a proposed move to Portsmouth fell through when Wolves continually raised their asking price for Blake before eventually cancelling the deal.

Blake then went on to have spells with Leicester City and Leeds United, before retiring after a brief spell with Newport County in 2006.

Nathan Blake now works as a pundit for the BBC, and also reports on Cardiff City games for Wales online.