Holden - Bolton's number one Wanderer
Published 23:00 26/11/10 By David Anderson - EXCLUSIVE
When Stuart Holden talks about taking the knocks to become a success in the Premier League, he means it literally.
Between a serious knee operation at 17, suffering a fractured eye socket in a street attack, breaking his ankle on trial at Leicester and then doing the same to his leg in March, Holden has endured enough setbacks to break a lesser man.
The assault, in Newcastle city centre in March 2005, was particularly devastating for Holden as his two-month lay off effectively ended his chances of making it at Sunderland.
But Bolton's USA international is made of stuff as hard as his birthplace, the granite city of Aberdeen, and Holden has bounced back from these setbacks to star in Wanderers' rise up the table.
"If I look back, for every bad thing that's happened or knock I've taken, I've come back stronger," he said. "The night of the attack, I was waiting with my brother for a taxi and I got blindside punched. I was left with double vision for two months.
"I had to have surgery on my eye. It was a blow-out fracture, which is one in a thousand - the muscle in your eye gets caught when it fractures, so your eye can't look up or down. These guys were from Newcastle and we were from Sunderland, but I can't say if it had anything to do with football rivalry.
"People asked me if I'd go back to England after it happened, but it didn't deter me from wanting to come back or scare me. I just put it down to bad luck.
"It was the same with the broken leg with Nigel de Jong. I'd just broken into the team here and it really bummed me out. But I've put that behind me and I'm just focused on the future."
The 25-year-old, who was 10 when he emigrated with his family to Houston, Texas, drew strength from watching his dad, Brian, bravely battle pancreatic cancer.
Brian defied all expectations before he finally died in February last year and Holden proudly sports the 'Live Strong' wristband he wore.
"My father wore this armband for the six years of his treatment," he said. "It has the words 'Live Strong' on it and that became our family motto.
"My mom gave it to me when he passed away. I've worn it every day since and I tape it up when I play."
Holden, whose mum Moira jetted over for Thanksgiving on Thursday, came full circle when he joined Bolton in January and his dad was born just across the M61 from the Reebok in Hindley.
The classy midfielder is delighted to have come 'home' and to be playing so well under Owen Coyle, who spotted him playing for Houston Dynamo against Los Angeles Galaxy on ESPN.
"My dad left here, went to Aberdeen and then Houston and now I've arrived here from Houston," said Holden. "His mum and dad still live here and we go and see them whenever we can.
"My cousins are season-ticket holders and I've got them the new Bolton kit with my name and number on the back for Christmas.
"Coming from Houston to the Premier League, I couldn't have asked for much more than to be at a club like Bolton."