"It was a fluke, really": The incredible story of how Grant Holt signed for Sheffield Wednesday

A hamstring tweak, a missed chance; life could have turned out so very differently for Grant Holt.

By Alex Miller
Sunday, 26th April 2020, 4:30 pm
Updated Sunday, 26th April 2020, 8:45 pm

Because, as it turned out, one match in the seventh tier of English football was enough to transport him beneath the Hillsborough floodlights and the First Division.

Holt would go on to fire 15 goals in a Premier League season for Norwich and come close to a place in England’s Euro 2012 squad, but was plucked from then-lowly Northern Premier League Barrow by Wednesday in a 2003 sliding doors moment.

“There was a man called Bill Green, a former player who sadly passed away recently,” Holt told the Non-League Paper.

“Bill was working for Sheffield Wednesday at the time, but came up to Newcastle for a christening one Sunday. He was at a loose end the day before and knew someone who played for Blue Star so he came along to the game.

“I played in the game for Barrow and scored a hat-trick. Bill watched me again, got me into Sheffield Wednesday for a trial game and within five weeks I was playing in the First Division.”

His stint at S6 was short, moving onto League Two Rochdale where he restarted his ascent to the big league.

But Holt is forever thankful of Wednesday for taking a chance on a 22-year-old whose clubs at the time included Workington and Halifax Town.

Grant Holt's stay at Sheffield Wednesday was short, but he went on to score goals in the Premier League for Norwich City and others.

“It was a fluke, really,” he said. “Right place, right time. But that’s how it happens. If anybody sees a good player, the first thing they do is tell someone else.

“People want to be involved in a story. If a player makes it big, they want to be able to say ‘Ah, remember when I told you about him?’

“Usually, that’s all it is, but sometimes that person will ring a friend, who then rings another friend, and in that instant your life can change.

“That’s why I say to all the young lads I coach now. It could be the deepest, darkest hole in football and I’ve seen some crackers. If you take it seriously and show your quality, you just never know who is watching.”