It wasn’t so long ago that Bolton Wanderers were among the best football clubs in the country, an established Premier League side qualifying for European competition.
Players like Ricardo Gardner, Gudni Bergsson, Bruno N’Gotty, Nicky Hunt, Henrik Pedersen and others all played crucial roles in the journey as Bolton first survived in the Premier League and later proceeded to punch above their weight with four consecutive top eight finishes.
Here’s a look at 12 of Bolton’s most memorable Premier League players…
A three-time Champions League winner and formerly Spain’s all-time leading international goalscorer, Fernando Hierro chose to spend the final year of a truly illustrious playing career with Bolton in 2004/05 after joining from Al Rayyan in Qatar.
Bringing vast experience and leadership to the squad, Hierro appeared in 28 Premier League games that season and it is no coincidence that the sixth place finish and European qualification remains the club’s best since 1959/60 in the days of Nat Lofthouse.
Stelios Giannakopoulos, who won Euro 2004 with Greece during his time at Bolton, was another foreign import with domestic titles under his belt and Champions League experience following his arrival from Greek giants Olympiacos.
After a relatively slow debut season, Stelios burst into life after Euro 2004 and enjoyed two outstanding seasons as the Trotters finished sixth and eighth. He even scored a famous winner against an Arsenal side who were reigning champions in January 2005.
Kevin Nolan helped lay the foundations for what was to come in the years that followed when he scored eight Premier League goals for a newly promoted Bolton in 2001/02, in what was only his second full season as a first team professional.
The home-grown midfielder remained a crucial part of the setup as Allardyce brought in big foreign names. By the time he left Bolton for Newcastle after a drop in form in January 2009, Nolan had played close to 350 games for the club over 10 years.
Youri Djorkaeff arrived in Lancashire from Kaiserslautern in the latter half of the 2001/02 campaign and was a catalyst for the club in more ways than one. Not only did he help keep the Trotters in the Premier League and move into the top half, he put the club on the map abroad.
The Frenchman was a World Cup and European Championship winner at international level, as well as a former star of Inter, Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco. It was arguably his arrival in Bolton in 2002 that prompted others to join later on.
One of those was two-time Champions League winner Ivan Campo, who arrived on loan from Real Madrid in the summer of 2002. The Spaniard quickly emerged as a cult hero and signed a permanent deal the following year – he ended up staying until 2008.
As a versatile centre-back/defensive midfielder, Campo was key as Bolton completed the transition from relegation fodder to European hopefuls. He started virtually every game in 2003/04 in what was the club’s first top half finish in the top flight for over half a century.
Kevin Davies was at a fairly low ebb when he joined Bolton as a free agent in 2003, having spent half of the previous on loan at Millwall and previously netting just 10 Premier League goals in three-and-a-half years with Southampton.
Moving to Bolton changed that. The striker fitted in perfectly and immediately equalled his best ever Premier League tally. He continued to consistently find the net, even when the Trotters started to struggle, and was later capped by England at the age of 33 in 2010.
The late Gary Speed was about to turn 35 years of age when he arrived at Bolton from Newcastle in 2004, but the Welsh midfielder, very much in the twilight of his career, proved to be a hugely influential factor as the club improved on an eighth place finish the season before.
Speed hardly missed a game for three-and-a-half seasons as a Bolton player, even scoring eight goals in 2006/07 en-route to a third successive top eight finish. Aged 38 by then, it was among the very best season goal hauls of his entire 23-year career.
Finnish goalkeeper Jussi Jaaskelainen played over 500 games for Bolton between 1998 and 2012, most of them in the Premier League. He was among the division’s very best goalkeepers at his peak and notably missed just two league fixtures between 2002 and 2007.
Jaaskelainen had a reputation as a fantastic shot stopper capable of making impossible saves. A double save he made against Manchester United in 2001 won best save at the Premier League 20 Seasons Award in 2012, celebrating 20 years of the modern top flight.
Jay-Jay Okocha was a favourite among not only Bolton supporters but all Premier League fans during the early 2000s, with his tricks, flicks and general energy lighting up the division. As some said, the Nigerian legend was ‘so good, they named him twice’.
Bolton snapped up Okocha as a free agent in the summer of 2002. He was later named captain when Gudni Bergsson retired and was twice named BBC African Footballer of the Year in 2003 and 2004, with the Trotters going from 17th to eighth in the Premier League in a year.
Having represented Arsenal, Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain and Liverpool, it was somewhat of a surprise to see Nicolas Anelka rock up at the Reebok Stadium in 2006.
Still only 26, the nomadic Frenchman's bad boy reputation had seen him hop around some of the biggest clubs in Europe, but it was time to settle down and plant some Premier League roots. Anelka scored 21 goals in 53 games for the club, and did indeed plant some roots - albeit at Chelsea.
Okay, so the inclusion of the Mexican is surprising to say the least. Yes, his record with the Trotters, two goals in 19 appearances, was sketchy to say the least, but we're talking about Jared Borgetti here.
Previously, he scored 189 - yes, 189 - goals in just 295 league games for Santos Laguna, as well as nabbing 46 international goals for Mexico. And that is class.
Another player to well and truly burst his goalscoring bubble when joining Bolton was Championship Manager legend Mario Jardel.
Prior to arriving at the club, Jardel had scored more goals than I've had hot dinners, particularly in Portugal. For Porto and Sporting CP, he netted 183 league goals in 174 Primiera Liga appearances - sandwiched between a 34-goal season at Galatasaray.
But yes, you guessed it. Jardel flopped at Bolton, drifted off into obscurity and is now remembered as a Premier League dunce. Fantastic content.