Henrik Pedersen arrived at Bolton Wanderers in the summer of 2001 just a matter of weeks after the club had secured a return to the top flight after a three year absence following victory against Preston North End in the Play-Off Final at the Millennium Stadium.
The Danish forward, 26 years-old at the time was making his first step away from the home comforts of domestic football back in his home nation and he joined a squad managed by Sam Allardyce who were about to find life in the Premier League pretty difficult in the first 24 months that followed promotion.
What came after survival on the final day of the 2002/03 season was a somewhat quicker than planned rise into the top section of the league that ultimately led to qualification for the UEFA Cup. Speaking on the Here We Go Again podcast, the striker discussed the steps the club put in place along with manager Sam Allardyce to really express the ambitions of reaching the next level.
‘Football-wise we went from just being promoted to the Premier League, to playing in Europe in about four or five years. When I came to Bolton in 2001, the training ground was so poor that in winter when there was frost, we couldn’t have any hot water because the pipes were frozen. Five years later we had the most perfect training ground.
‘It is similar in the level of improvement to us as a team at that time. The quality went from very low to a high standard, it was an unbelievable journey that we went on and I’m very proud to have been a part of it.
‘You could sense the ambition from the football club when the top players started to sign. The gaffer (Sam Allardyce) was one of the most future-sighted managers at that time – I think we were the first club who started to use ProZone when they’d come to the stadium with the running stats and all of that technology and Sports Science.
‘We had Chinese Masseurs and we used to go to Poland to walk around in a freezer for three minutes. He was always looking ahead to find out how we could do things better and how he could get better players in to play for the club.
‘Of course when you get better players in, the other players get better because if they wanted to play they needed to raise their game. It was definitely credit to the gaffer and credit to the club using their money to manage to get all the big players in.
‘Inside the freezers in Poland it was -160 degrees Celsius for about three minutes, it was very, very cold. You’re not allowed to go to the bathroom within half an hour before you go into the freezer because if you have a few drops down below, it will freeze! It was definitely cold but it really helped.
‘The first time we tried it we went to Poland to this place that was in the middle of the forest. We turned up at this very old at athletics training ground – it looked like something from before the war. All the athletics national teams from around the world were there; the Danish, the Jamaicans, they were all there only to use the freezer.
‘It allowed us to train very hard in the morning, go into the freezer and then train nearly as hard in the afternoon too. Going there really helped us actually.
The podcast is available to listen to or watch in full on the club’s YouTube channel as well as Spotify and Apple Podcasts.