HOLDEN: I’M LUCKY, JUST ASK MUAMBA
TO MANY Stuart Holden is the epitome of bad luck – the Premier League’s next big thing in 2010 before he suffered the first of three separate knee injuries.
But the USA international, now attempting to rebuild his career on loan at Sheffield Wednesday, points out that what he has been through is nothing compared to his former Bolton midfield partner Fabrice Muamba.
It was little over a year ago that Muamba suffered a cardiac arrest during Wanderers’ FA Cup quarter-final tie with Tottenham and his heart stopped for a terrifying 78 minutes – March 17 to be exact.
Holden was back home in the States, watching the game live on television while recovering from cartilage damage, making the wait for any news on his close friend even harder.
While Muamba has since recovered, that White Hart Lane match proved to be his last and on the advice of leading cardiologists he has retired.
But Holden – who has made just four appearances for the Trotters since tearing his cruciate ligament against Manchester United way back in March 2011 – says that he cannot feel sorry for himself when he thinks about what happened to former England U21 star Muamba.
“Fabrice is a close friend of mine and he was my partner on the pitch, so it does make you thankful in that sense with my injury,” he said.
“He will never be able to play football again which is such a shame for him.
“But he is happy to be living and when you think of it in that respect and your health is fine, and it’s just a little knee injury, it really does put your life into perspective and makes you thankful for where you are in life.
“Fabrice is certainly making use of every day that he is here now and he is keeping himself busy. “I was in the States watching it live on television when it happened. That was even harder as I wasn’t able to get the updates that everyone else was getting.
“It was just about keeping in touch.The manager was keeping me in touch by text and phone calls. It was tough.
“But I was at his surprise birthday party the other day. He is doing great. I am in contact with him all the time.”
Holden’s own nightmare began while playing for the United States against Holland in March 2010, when he had been at Bolton for just two months and had made only two appearances.
Former Manchester City enforcer Nigel De Jong broke his leg. But Holden is tough. He recovered to play a part in his country’s 2010 World Cup campaign, including an appearance against England in the group stages.
He then teamed up with Muamba the following season and formed an unlikely but successful domestic double act in the midfield that was making some of the Premier League’s top clubs take notice.
That was before Jonny Evans tackled him in March 2011, almost a year to the day before Muamba’s setback, and the result was another six months on the sidelines.
A clear indication of Holden’s influence, though, came when he was still voted Wanderers’ player of the year – despite missing the final two months of that campaign. For now, the 27-year-old finds himself at Hillsborough for a month, having been sent by boss Dougie Freedman to prove his fitness before next season, but he’s in no rush given the events of the past three years.
“Coming back off of a long term injury and playing two games in three or four days is a bit of an ask,” he added.
“I think, looking at the bigger picture, it’s smarter to play every week and I’ll be fitter, fresher and stronger for having a bit more of a rest in between games.
“I had spoken to the Bolton manager a few times about trying to get some games. But the team had been doing really well and it was tough to force my way in, especially coming off an injury and the guys in front of me playing really well.
“It just came down to us having a good conversation about me going away for a month and finding the best place to get games.”
GOOD OLD DAYS: Stuart Holden in action for Bolton
PAIN GAME: Muamba’s injury (left), Holden is hurt (above) and playing for the USA (right)