Reebok Heroes: Bibi
As we approach our first season in the newly renamed Macron Stadium, I decided to look back at some of Bolton Wanderer's most loyal servants who's football was exhibited at the Reebok Stadium.
Ricardo Gardner, known affectionately by fans as 'Bibi' first graced Bolton soil as a bright-eyed 19 year old on the back of an impressive World Cup for Jamaica. He joined for 1 million pounds from Harbour View. Before signing, he had only one season of professional football under his belt and in a relatively unknown league. However, he quickly established himself as a first team player- he went on to make 37 appearances that season.
At Bolton Gardner featured in various positions, mainly as a left winger but also played in the centre of midfield or as a left full back when called upon. His versatility, pace, energy and laid back nature made himself a fans' favourite. I remember one of my favourite moments during his time at Bolton was him giving the ball away against Charlton as we had committed pretty much everyone forward, before sprinting back the entire length of the pitch to make a last ditch tackle to prevent an opposition goal. His brothers happened to be sitting behind us at the time.
Former manager Owen Coyle described Gardner as 'such a humble man'. His ability to keep himself down to earth and stay committed and devoted to Bolton Wanderers is no doubt one of the reasons for his success. He is also said to have been a mentor to other younger players at the club and regularly was involved in charitable affairs.
Another moment that comes to mind when I think of Ricardo Gardner is his goal against Bayern Munich, during our UEFA Cup run under Gary Megson. This was one of the last highs before our depressingly fast fall from grace. He didn't score many goals, only 23 for Bolton but what he did around the pitch made up for it.
In May 2012, after Bolton Wanderers suffered relegation after such a long stint in the Premier League- 11 years of Bibi's 14 years at the club, the then 2nd longest Premier League server was released.
We thank you, Bibi for your hard work and dedication for the 14 years and over 400 appearances for Bolton.
WRITTEN BY NICKY CROMPTON.
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