STUART Holden might have taken a massive gamble being Wanderers’ Lone Star but insists it is worth the risk.
Although the young midfielder was born and raised North of the Border in Aberdeen, his thick American accent gives away the fact he has called Houston, Texas his hometown for the better part of the last 14 years.
But for a brief spell at Sunderland as a teenager, which ended abruptly after an unprovoked attack outside a Newcastle nightclub had left him with a badly broken cheekbone, he has steadily forged a reputation as one of the most promising young players in the American game.
A trophy-laden four-year spell with Houston Dynamo has led to 12 international caps for the US — but despite his success across the Atlantic, Holden has turned it all in to go in search of greater professional reward in the promised lands of the Premier League.
The 24-year-old signed a four-month loan deal with Wanderers on Monday, which leads him neatly into this summer’s World Cup finals.
He may yet return to Houston, who still hold his registration details, in time for the MLS play-offs.
But with his ultimate objective being a longer stay in England, he recognises that he has plenty to prove before the end of this season.
“There was always the option to stay in Houston as the main guy in midfield but I felt I had to take this opportunity to challenge myself in a great squad,” he said.
“It’s going to push me to becoming a better player not only physically but mentally. It’s going to be a tough task but I can’t wait to get started.
“I was in the US team last year and have 12 caps but the World Cup would be a dream.
“I’m hoping that while I am here at Bolton and contributing, making a name for myself, that I can stay in that US team heading for South Africa this summer.
“It’s a big six months of my career and something I’m really looking forward to.”
Holden had been pencilled-in to sign for Burnley until Owen Coyle’s move to the Reebok, where he was immediately offered a trial.
And while he has had to overcome a thigh injury and the weather to earn a contract with Wanderers, the creative midfielder has ticked the right boxes with his new manager.
“When I first spoke to Owen Coyle on the phone and it surprised me how much he knew about my playing style, my career, and that really drew me to him,” he said. “When the opportunity came to come to Bolton it was a no-brainer. All the other offers aside, Bolton was the only one for me.
“I consider myself a box-to-box midfielder and get myself up and down. I like to get on the ball and pass it, create things, and get forward.
“I’m excited because there are a number of good strikers I can link up with. I hope I can create goals and get goals at the same time.”