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Holding has feet firmly on the ground despite remarkable rise from Bolton to FA Cup winner at Arsenal

Date Posted,August 25, 2017

It was the biggest summer of his life and yet Rob Holding was on the most unlikely holiday for a Premier League footballer.

While his career-changing move to Arsenal was being negotiated last year, Holding was backpacking round Thailand with five mates from school, staying in £5-a-night hostels.

It is the sort of attitude which has kept Holding’s feet firmly on the ground after his remarkable rise from Bolton to FA Cup winner with Arsenal.

Holding, 21, refuses to get carried away but equally will not be intimidated when Arsenal face a daunting trip to Liverpool. His outlook on life refreshingly down-to-earth.

“It was me and five mates from school. We’d always wanted to do it, but it was the first time I could do it and they’d always had exams and stuff.

Holding had barely broken into the Bolton team before Arsenal came calling (Image: Action Images via Reuters)
Holding won the FA Cup with Arsenal last season (Image: Stuart MacFarlane)

“I went to America this summer, Los Angeles. It’s a bit different… but some of the friends who came last year came as well.”

While there is often the clamour for big-money signings, Holding is proof there are still bargains in the lower divisions.

“You start with Jamie Vardy, came up through non-league and ended up winning the Premier League. There are players out there,” he said.

“If you get found, if you’re lucky enough to be brought through then you have to realise that the job is not done there.”

He was at Bolton since he was eight, grew up as a Manchester United fan admiring Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic and admits it was a baptism of fire after his move to Arsenal, playing in the 3-4 home defeat to Liverpool on the opening day of last season.

Ander Herrera in action with Rob Holding
Holding admits that he grew up as a United fan (Image: Action Images via Reuters)
It was a dramatic start to life in the Premier League for Holding (Image: Mike Hewitt)

“It was a tough game. It was like: ‘Welcome to the Premier League!’ I took things out of that into the next game at Leicester who were the current champions. Then it was Watford. It was so fast and tough so it was a big welcome to the Premier League.

“It was a bit surreal to be walking out with Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez. To be honest, if I’d thought that the year before, I’d never have believed it. But that’s what happens, I settled down and Arsenal’s style of play, playing on the floor, really suited me.”

England under-21 defender Holding has already endured a few ups and downs. He started last season, then lost his place after they signed Shkodran Mustafi for £34m and accepts there are plenty more hurdles.

Holding was speaking at the Call of Duty: World War II BETA launch

“You have to be patient and accept it at a big club. When signings come in and into the team, it increases the competition. You have to get back to the training ground, work hard and fight to get back into the team.

“On a personal level, I want to be a mainstay in the team. However long that takes, that’s my end goal. As a team, I think we need to push on. Hopefully we can get on a good run and challenge for the title which is what we want to be doing and then any other trophies are a bonus.

“You can see from the talent in the squad, the depth of the squad that we have got enough to challenge and I’m sure come May that we’ll be up there.”

Rob Holding was speaking at the Call of Duty: World War II BETA launch, which is available for anyone who has pre-ordered the game on PS4 or XB1. For more information visit

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