I’m a Premier League cult hero who became a wrestler and now I’ve come out of retirement at 42 to save non-league club


GRANT HOLT was never afraid to tussle with defenders on the pitch.

So much so that he turned to professional wrestling after retiring from football.

Action Images – ReutersGrant Holt holds legendary status at Norwich[/caption]

WAWHe went into wrestling and won a 40-man Royal Rumble[/caption]

Holt has teamed up with a consortium to help non-league Dereham Town

Now he is spinning plenty of plates in the “mental place” that is football. 

Holt, 42, came through the youth ranks at hometown club Carlisle before spells with Halifax, Sorrento in Australia, Sengkang Marine in Singapore, Barrow, Sheffield Wednesday and Rochdale – even working part-time in a factory during his early career.

He joined Nottingham Forest in 2006 but, after a season with Shrewsbury, enjoyed his best spell at Norwich from 2009 to 2013. 

After a 7-1 defeat on debut, he smashed in a hat-trick in the League Cup then was made captain by gaffer Paul Lambert. 

Holt fired Norwich to the League One title in 2009-10 and then secured back-to-back promotion as the Canaries reached the Premier League as Championship runners-up.

His 15 top-flight goals in 2011-12 saw him crowned player of the year for the third season running and was even tipped to break into the England squad for Euro 2012. 

Holt had one more season at Carrow Road before finishing his career with spells at Wigan, Hibernian, King’s Lynn Town and Barrow. 

But he hung up his boots in 2022 after turning out in defence for Norfolk’s Wroxham in the Eastern Counties Football League Premier Division. 


Alongside his spell in non-league at the end of his playing days, though, Holt made the incredible step from the penalty box into the wrestling ring as he signed a contract with WAW.

Dressed as a manager, he dropkicked an opponent over the ropes to win a 40-man Royal Rumble on debut to earn the Crusher Mason Memorial Trophy.

Dad-of-three Holt then added two further wins before calling time on his unbeaten wrestling career to focus on football – working as a Norwich academy coach and then scouting for West Ham. 

He told SunSport: “WAW put on the event for a couple of kids with cancer.

“This event was supposed to be 300-400 people but I spoke to Norwich and we did it with 4,500 at Carrow Road which was absolutely mental. Unbelievable.

“I think everyone thought it would spin off into a career in wrestling which was never going to be the case. It was more about raising money for cancer.

“I didn’t realise how hard it was going to be – it was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life with the training. That’s why I’ve never done it since.

“You cannot do it without training. It is so difficult and complex. I wanted to do it properly so I was spending four or five hours a week trying to get all the moves in place.

“Definitely fun though! A good buzz. I think they did it that way on purpose but I’m underdefeated.

“The three teenage daughters weren’t bothered because there is no embarrassment because I was doing it for charity and raising money for those that need it.”

PA:Press AssociationHolt in action for Rochdale way back in 2004[/caption]

Instagram @holtygrantHe finished with a perfect record of three wins from three[/caption]

instagram @holtygrantHolt and his wife have three daughters together[/caption]

Holt is also helping save a non-league club, raising money with a mammoth charity walk, working for a school and spent two years as a first-team scout at West Ham as they signed Mohammed Kudus and Edson Alvarez.

Guest posting agency=

The ex-striker is Director of Football at Langley School in Norfolk and has plans to get back into football as a sporting director or manager.

However, in February, Holt made a shock football comeback as part of a deal to throw his support behind Dereham Town. 

He has teamed up with pals in Norfolk to form a consortium to partner with Dereham following their relegation to the ninth tier.

The 2002 Northern Premier League President’s Cup winner even registered as a player – taking his tally to 20 clubs – and ironically made his short-lived debut against Norwich’s Under-21s in the Norfolk Senior Cup at Aldiss Park.

Holt added: “A couple of friends are Dereham Town fans and like any non-league club it’s been a tough, tough few years for them since Covid.

“They are in a bit of trouble so we had a conversation to come in – me on the football side, them on the business side. The aim is to make the club sustainable for a long time. It’s not easy to sustain non-league teams. 

“Technically I’m a co-owner of the football club. We want the kids to come through to the first team – both boys to the men’s team and girls to the women’s team.

“The plan is to help out where I can. I put the boots back on very briefly. I have kept myself fit but I pulled my hamstring a few weeks ago in my only game which didn’t help. That’s more to do with getting old than the fitness!

Grant Holt’s football career

1999 Workington
1999–2001 Halifax Town – 6 league appearances (0 league goals)
2001 → Sorrento (loan)
2001 → Barrow (loan) – 10 (4)
2001 Sengkang Marine – 17 (12)
2001–2003 Barrow – 59 (31)
2003–2004 Sheffield Wednesday – 24 (3)
2004–2006 Rochdale – 75 (34)
2006–2008 Nottingham Forest – 96 (21)
2008 → Blackpool (loan) – 4 (0)
2008–2009 Shrewsbury Town – 43 (20)
2009–2013 Norwich City – 154 (68)
2013–2016 Wigan Athletic – 20 (3)
2014 → Aston Villa (loan) – 10 (1)
2014 → Huddersfield Town (loan) – 15 (2)
2015–2016 → Wolverhampton Wanderers (loan) – 4 (0)
2016 Rochdale – 14 (2)
2016–2017 Hibernian – 30 (5)
2017 King’s Lynn Town – 3 (1)
2017–2018 Barrow – 24 (0)
2020–2022 Wroxham – 3 (1)
2024– present Dereham Town – 1 (0)
Total: 611 (208)

“I’m there if they are short – my role is not to be a player but to get the club in a position to go forward.”

Holt continued: “It’s all about getting the knowledge, I’ve got the director of football role at the school, I’m shaping the non-league team, I’ve got my coaching, I do some ambassador work at Norwich.

“I had enough of travelling and leaving the kids so I’m back in Norfolk. I’ve got my A licence, B licence, finished my diploma in Football Management.

“I don’t like being pigeon-holed into one thing so I’ve tried to get all my stuff in the background. It’s a good CV.

“I’m busy – sometimes too busy. I like having challenges.”

Speaking of challenges, Holt and four others are taking on the mammoth task of walking 100 miles in April to raise money for Norwich-based Big C Cancer Charity.

The former footballer is training by going out at 5.30am every Saturday morning.

Holt said: “We will walk 100 miles from Cromer to Hunstanton to King’s Lynn FC to Dereham FC then back into the Big C.

“It is going to take 36 to 40 hours, no sleeping with a couple of hours break.

“It’s hard to mentally prepare. We walk 22km around the Norwich ring road at 5.30am on Saturday mornings, there are 37 people now but five of us for the 100-mile walk.

“We have to be conscious as it’s not great to have loads of people walking down the road like Forrest Gump!

“It will be tough going but all for a worthwhile cause. Everyone needs money at the moment but not everyone has money at the moment so please donate what you can whether that’s 50p, £1 or £10, anything helps.”

To find out more about Grant Holt’s 100-mile walk and donate to the Big C, go to their JustGiving page

Guest posting agency=

PA:Press AssociationHolt helped make a name for himself at Nottingham Forest[/caption]

Instagram @holtygrantHe spent time as a scout for West Ham[/caption]

Andrew Barr – The Sun GlasgowHe helped Hibernian win the Scottish Championship[/caption]

Only five men have scored more goals for NorwichAction Images – Reuters

Skipper Holt powered Norwich into the Premier LeaguePA:Press Association

The striker celebrates promotion into the Premier LeagueAction Images – Reuters

Leave a Reply

Follow by Email