A fairytale story

It is unbelievable that Holt will be playing the Premier League this season and not seen fitting tyres while playing non-league football for Workington Reds. Over to Richard Aspland.

For anyone trying to make it in the game, football has its ups and downs. Some make it, some don't.

But for one player gracing the fields of the English Premier League elite next season, the road has led from garages to non-league, across continents and back. That player is Norwich City forward and captain, Grant Holt.

“If anyone told me two years ago that I'd captain a side going into the Prem I wouldn't have believed them,” he admits.

But go back even further and it is even more unbelievable as Holt could be seen fitting tyres while playing non-league football for Workington Reds.

Not giving up on his dream of playing professional football, Holt took the gamble of playing abroad. Where others head to Spain or Italy, Holt again managed to do things a little differently by heading to Singapore to play for little known Sengkang Marine.

Even though Holt knew it wasn't top-standard football, he still felt his football knowledge grew from the experience.

He said: “It wasn't the best league in the world, but it was competitive. It definitely gave me a wider perspective on football and how differently the game is played in different places.”

Armed with this knowledge Holt returned to Britain expecting to sign for his hometown club, Carlisle. Instead Holt found himself back in the non-league with Barrow before getting his break with League One side Sheffield Wednesday.

A slow start to League football at Wednesday led to Holt joining Rochdale where his goal tally began to hot up. Averaging a goal every other game, Holt was attracting the attention of clubs higher up the leagues, but it was Nottingham Forest who got his signature in a GBP300,000 deal.

Another slow start saw Holt score four goals in as many months for Forest and this form restricted him to mostly substitute appearances the following season. Despite this, Holt managed to become Forest's top scorer in his first full season at the club, and the fans recognised this with the Player of the Year award.

After a turbulent second season at Forest, Holt was loaned out briefly to Blackpool before becoming Shrewsbury Town's record signing at GBP175,000 in 2008.

Holt flourished at the Shrews, becoming joint top scorer in the league, scoring on his debut, scoring five in a game and making the PFA League Two Team of the Year.

It was only a matter of time before another club came in for the striker. After a whirlwind successful year at Shrewsbury, Holt signed for Norwich for an undisclosed fee, thought to be in the region of GBP400,000.

Upon signing for the Canaries, Holt thought his physical presence would play a part in the success of his new club, saying: “I'll be able to put myself about and get involved in the game, but I'm not all about that. It's just another side that I've got.”

Holt indeed showed all sides to his game as Norwich gained promotion from League One with Holt becoming only the fifth player in Norwich history to score 30 goals in a season, taking Player of the Year on his way to being recognised again in the PFA's Team of the Year.

The Championship again proved a good hunting ground for Holt and Norwich as the Canaries won promotion to the EPL at the first time of asking.

Despite completing a hat-trick of Player of the Year awards and making League Two, League One and Championship PFA Team of the Year, some are questioning the impact the 30-year-old can have in the Premier League.

Someone who doesn't doubt his ability is Canaries legend Efan Ekoku. When asked if Holt could make an impact, Ekoku said: “It's certainly possible because he's a goalscorer.”

“He did well in the last campaign and he's a good all-round player; strong with his back to goal, he scores a variety of goals and he's a big, strong, powerful guy so he could do well if he gets the service.”

Whatever happens, Holt can look back on his story from tyre-fitter to Premier League captain with pride.

He is married to Faye and the couple had their third child earlier this year. Holt was driving a Peugeot 307 last year when he was convicted of speeding and received a six-month driving ban.

Name: Grant Holt Position: Striker Club: Norwich D.O.B: 12/4/1981

Moment to remember: Runner-up in the Championship player-of-the-year awards after helping Norwich win promotion to the Premier League.

Moment to forget: Made his Norwich debut in a 7-1 thrashing at home to Colchester.

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