Date: 3rd February 2016 at 9:21pm
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It brings be great sadness to announce the retirement of Stuart Holden. I’m sure he doesn’t need much introduction so I’ll just cut to the chase: Holden is one of the best midfielders we’ve had at the club for a long time. He’s also one of the best people we’ve had at the club in a long time. He’s also the most unlucky person we’ve had at the club… ever.

He signed for us back in January 2010 with a good reputation from across the pond. However it took him a month to finally get a game for Bolton: a 4-0 drubbing in the cup against White Hart Lane. It was a bit of a weird match, Assou-Ekotto was playing right back for Spurs who also had Eidur Gudjohnsen on their team. Meanwhile, the virtual unknown, Holden was played in a central role up against Tom Huddlestone- their physical differences very distinct.

I’m not just saying this, but I genuinely saw something very special in Holden on that day. Of course he would have been nervous, but he put in an impressive performance. It’s hard to do so when the players around you are playing so badly and Andy O’Brien scores ridiculous own goals, but he still managed to stand out. His bleached blonde hair, a bright line on a miserable North London weekday night.

He went on to play a couple of times in the league before the end of that season, before going on to his only proper Bolton Wanderers season.

Yep, everyone loves Holden right? We all know how good a player he is don’t we? Well guess what, he only played 28 games in the Premier League for us in his whole time at Bolton yet so many people managed to recognise his qualities. How do you manage to make such a big impression on so many people in such few games?

There’s something different about him. Something very very special. He was an incredible player who would work tirelessly up and down the pitch for his team, putting his body on the line all the time while also offering real genuine quality on the ball: he was amazing.

In our last reasonably good season in the Premier League (our penultimate one) we had three central midfielders who worked brilliantly together: Holden, Muamba and Mavies. The first has had to retire at the age of 30 due to injuries, the second had to retire at 24 due to a cardiac arrest and the third’s career has also been severely limited due to injuries. It’s such a shame.

However, Holden’s attitude has always been one of admirable positivity. Always. He’s a terrific role model for anyone and if all footballers were like him then football would be a much better sport.

Holden’s depressingly few games for Bolton have still brought us many fond memories, my favourite being THAT goal against Blackburn.

He’s been an incredible player for us and I really do hope that he can keep close ties with the club because he’s a special player and person.

Stu, thanks for everything, and all the best as you embark on your new journey as a father.

 

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