Despite being completely unknown to most Premier League fans, Gary Madine is something of a celebrity in the Football League, partly because he’s played for most clubs in it.
Although he’s only 25, Bolton will be the seventh team he’ll have turned out for when he lines up for them in August.
2015/16 will be a big season for Madine who has often showed promise but has so far failed to live up to his reputation.
If he can avoid the long arm of the law then this will be his first full season since 2013, and even that season was interrupted by legal issues.
As I’ve previously hinted at, Madine’s had an eventful career in football so far. Originally on the books of Middlesbrough as a youth player, Madine burst onto the scene at Carlisle making first appearance for the Cumbrians in 2008 and scoring his first goal for the club later that year.
However his career stalled and spent much of the following two years on loan at Rochdale, Coventry and then finally Chesterfield.
Madine’s big breakthrough came in 2010 when he experienced perhaps his greatest game for the Cumbrians when he scored a hat-trick in a 4-0 win against Hartlepool in September that year.
By the New Year that season he had notched up 13 goals in all competitions and that earned him a January transfer to Sheffield Wednesday, signing a 4 and a half year deal.
The goals came steadily for Madine that season but it was the following year where came good for Wednesday, after serving 250 hours of community service for committing actual bodily harm whilst he was still at Carlisle.
Madine started off well in his first full season in South Yorkshire, scoring 3 goals in August and notching his 10th strike of the season in a 3-1 win over Chesterfield in late October.
He also won Football League Young Player of the Month for his goalscoring exploits in September after scoring 10 goals in 12 games. Undoubtedly his greatest game for the Owls came against cross-city rivals Sheffield United when Madine scored an 85th minute equaliser in the Steel City Derby to level the game at 2-2.
The goals kept flowing for Madine that season as Wednesday finished 2nd and earned promotion to the Championship, with Madine ending the year as Wednesday’s top scorer and the division’s 5th top scorer with 18 goals.
The following year Madine failed to recapture the form of the previous year, netting only 3 league goals all year in his first season in England’s second tier.
This was partially down to an overall poor season for Wednesday as they ended the year in a disappointing 18th, only avoiding the drop by 4 points. Madine’s poor form was also partially down yet another ‘brush’, or perhaps ‘punch’ with the law after another altercation in a pub.
He was later jailed and missed the majority of the 2013/14 season, playing twice for Wednesday and a short loan stint back at former club Carlisle where he scored 2 goals across 5 games for the Cumbrians.
2014/15 was much of the same for Madine. It was obvious that Sheffield Wednesday wanted rid of their once talismanic striker. Madine lasted until late October in Yorkshire before he was yet again returning to a former club on loan, this time to League One side Coventry.
Although the goals started flowing again for Madine, notching 4 goals in 13 appearances (including an important match-winner away at Colchester), it was only ever going to be a short term move and Madine was away again on yet another loan move, this time to Championship strugglers Blackpool.
Madine scored twice for the seasiders before leaving his loan terminated at the end of the season. Shortly after the end of the season Wednesday announced that Madine had been released from his contract and he found himself a free-agent.
It was expected that Madine would drop down a division so it was of suprise to many when he Bolton announced the signing of Madine earlier this summer.
It is difficult to predict what the future will hold for him in this particular corner of Lancashire with significant competition for places for the Trotters. Madine will have to compete for his place in the starting line-up with former England striker Emile Heskey as well as young attackers Sam Clough and Max Clayton.
With Madine seemingly well settled at a club and having a full pre-season schedule behind him, could this be the year were he finally lives up to his potential?