Ricardo Gardner spent 14 years with Bolton Wanderers, making 410 appearances for the club across the old First Division, Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup, and UEFA Cup, scoring 23 goals in the process. One of those goals of course came in Bolton's famous draw at the Allianz Arena against Bayern Munich. He is nothing short of a Bolton legend and a player that is still and always will be fondly remembered by many Wanderers fans.
Bibi, as he is known to the fans, was released by Bolton following the club's relegation to the Championship at the end of the 2011/12 season and has been without a club since.
The player left the Bolton area one year after his release, returning home to his native Jamaica while looking to continue his career. In an interview last May, Gardner said that a move to Major League Soccer may be on the cards:
"I want to get the family settled as quickly as possible then I am maybe looking at doing a year in the MLS. Who knows, I might even come back here for another year or two? We will see what happens."
The 34-year-old is now on trial with Major League Soccer side Real Salt Lake. According to Aaron Falk, who covers RSL for The Salt Lake Tribune, Gardner looked good in training:
Gardner turns 35 next month, but showed some skill and speed today. Could add depth if he sticks.— Aaron Falk (@aaronfalk) August 13, 2013
@beanmace I thought he looked good in the hour I watched.— Aaron Falk (@aaronfalk) August 13, 2013
The common thread between Bibi Gardner and Real Salt Lake is found in retired midfielder Andy Williams, who played for Jamaica from 1996 to 2010 (Gardner's international career started in 1997). Williams spent six years with RSL, winning the MLS Cup in 2009 in a victory over the LA Galaxy. His contract with the club expired in 2011 and it was at that point that the then-34-year-old retired. He is now a scout for RSL.
Should Bibi make the switch to RSL and MLS, he will face off against former teammates Andy O'Brien and Nigel Reo-Coker (who both play for Vancouver Whitecaps) later in the season. RSL also still have a number of games against the Portland Timbers still to play. Portland's goalkeeper is Gardner's fellow countryman and one-time Bolton teammate Donovan Ricketts.