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Bolton Wanderers vs Rochdale: Played For Both Clubs - Craig Dawson

A look at the career of former Rochdale and Wanderers centre back, Craig Dawson

Cardiff City v Bolton Wanderers - npower Championship Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images

Ahead of tonight's games, here is a look at the career of former Rochdale and Bolton Wanderers defender, Craig Dawson.

Craig Dawson, born 6th May 1990, didn't have the most conventional of paths into professional football. Rejected (somewhat ironically) by Bolton Wanderers and Rochdale as a teen, Dawson would instead go on to play for non-league side Rochdale St Clements. Dawson combined playing non-league football with collecting glasses in a pub to earn money.

One night whilst working in the pub Bernard Manning Junior, son of the comedian and chairman of Radcliffe Borough, offered Dawson the chance to train with and eventually play for Radcliffe Borough. Aged 16, Dawson made his debut for Radcliffe against Salford.

Initially a midfielder, Dawson's physical play and strong tackling against players much older than he was earned him a move into defence. Dawson flourished for Radcliffe, scoring fifteen times in ninety-five games. It was this kind of form that started to attract the attention of football league sides.

In February 2009, Craig Dawson moved to hometown club and tonight's opponents Rochdale, then in League Two.

Dawson made his Rochdale debut six months later in August, in a 1-1 draw with Port Vale. Scoring eleven goals in all competitions from defence, Dawson played an integral role as Rochdale finished 3rd League Two, ensuring promotion to League One. For his efforts, Dawson was named in the 2009/2010 League Two PFA Team of the year.

It wouldn't be long before Dawson was on the move again. Fulham, Swansea City, Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Blackburn Rovers were all linked, but it was West Bromwich Albion who would sign the young centre back for an undisclosed fee.

Dawson was loaned back to Rochdale for the 2010/2011 season, scoring eleven times in forty-eight games as Dale finished 9th in League One. In total for Rochdale, Craig Dawson scored 22 goals in 94 games.

Craig Dawson made his WBA debut in August 2011, starting in the League Cup in a 4-1 win against AFC Bournemouth. Dawson would go on to play twelve times in his debut season.

It was around this time that Dawson broke into the England U21 setup. After making his U21 debut against Azerbaijan in September 2011, Dawson went on to score six times in fifteen games. Dawson also played in Great Britain Olympic Team in 2012, alongside fellow former Wanderers Marvin Sordell and Daniel Sturridge.

After only three appearances in the 2012/2013 season, Dawson was sent on loan to Championship side Bolton Wanderers. Dawson was an instant success at Bolton, scoring four times in sixteen games as Wanderers went from mid-table into the Play-Off places.

Craig Dawson scores the winning goal away at Barnsley
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Dawson's last game for Bolton was a 1-1 draw away at Cardiff City, as the defenders’ loan ended before the end of the season. As a result, Bolton missed out on the Play-Offs on goal difference to Leicester City.

After failed attempts to re-sign Craig Dawson, the defender has remained at WBA ever since. At the time of writing, Craig Dawson has scored five goals in 121 games for West Brom.