28th July 2004.
Bolton Wanderers, then an established Premier League club led by the world’s greatest manager Sam Allardyce, secured the signing of former Real Madrid legend Fernando Hierro.
Hierro left the Madrid a year before, and nts one year ago and spent 12 months in Qatar, which means Bolton still need to obtain international clearance. Allardyce said:
"I firmly believe he can become a star in the English game.
Most people in the game know him as a defender but he has played most of his career as a midfielder and we now have the flexibility of playing him in those two areas.
After spending a year in Qatar, he is desperate to make an impression again in mainstream European football."
He wasn’t wrong.
Despite only making 29 appearances, scoring once, Hierro has found a fond place in the hearts of most Bolton fans.
Beginning the season at centre half, he struggled initially, before being quickly moved to midfield where his elegant passing and reading of the game made him an essential part of that season’s team. His set-piece delivery has yet to be bettered.
He retired after the final home game of the season, a 3-2 win over Everton at the Reebok - and left with the cheers of Wanderers fans ringing in his ears.
Fernando Hierro. What a man.