Bolton midfielder Stuart Holden spent the last two months of this season on his couch playing video games.
Still, the young American made such an impact before an injury KO'd his 2011 campaign that he was awarded Bolton's Player of the Year award -- twice. At the end-of-the-year banquet, Holden took home one POY award, which was voted on by fans, and another, which was handed out by the media.
Holden sustained his second devastating leg injury in as many seasons on March 19, when he slid into Manchester United's Johnny Evans during a tackle. Evans received a red card for his recklessness and Holden received 26 stiches and a six-month hiatus from the sport he loves. Evans later offered Holden a heartfelt apology.
Bolton was enjoying a successful season until the injury to Holden, who finished with two goals and added two assists. The Wanderers split the next two matches, but lost their last five to finish the season in 14th place.
The injury was especially crushing because it meant he would have to sit out this summer's Gold Cup. Holden was arguably the United States' best player at the 2009 Gold Cup, in which the Americans finished runner-up to Mexico. Holden was one of four players named to the all-tournament team.
It also brought back memories of 2010. Holden injured his leg during one of USA's pre-World Cup friendlies, which cost him dearly in the months leading up to the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Holden only saw five minutes of action (vs. England) in four games.
His latest injury, however, will only motivate him more. Holden reacted to the award on the team's website:
"I feel like I have made an impact, and watching all the video clips on the big screen (during Monday’s awards dinner) has given me even more motivation to get myself back fit and do bigger and better things next season."
Holden also remarked how coincidental it was that he ended up at Bolton after a successful stint with the Houston Dynamo of the MLS:
"My grandparents live just down the road, my second cousins are Bolton fans through and through and they are calling me every Friday asking for tickets. So it's quite ironic how I ended up at Bolton, near where my dad was born.
"I'm an easy going family guy and that's the kind of club that Bolton is. On the field you go out and perform to your best but off the field you have to enjoy life, and when you are in the kind of environment that there is here then it really helps."