HE arrived as a wet-behind-the-ears Reggae Boy fresh from the World Cup, but grew into a warrior who featured heavily in Wanderers’ Premier League journey.

Ricardo Gardner yesterday severed links with Bolton Wanderers after 14 years, leaving long-time team-mate Jussi Jaaskelainen – himself facing an uncertain future – as the last remaining link to the days of second-tier football.

Relegation certainly wasn’t the note the music loving Jamaica international wanted to bow out on, particularly as his last appearance ended prematurely with a red card in defeat at Swansea last October.

Since then, a succession of injury problems – a familiar hardship in his time at the Reebok – have forced him to seek his own course of treatment at a knee specialist in Amsterdam.

Although Gardner racked up 409 appearances for the club since Colin Todd snapped him up from Harbour View in 1998 for £1million, it’s safe to assume he would be rubbing shoulders with the club’s all-time stalwarts had injuries not bitten so hard into his career.

Cruciate ligament problems in 2002 and 2004 prompted long spells on the sidelines, while in recent seasons, issues with thigh and hamstrings have been largely to blame for his lack of first-team action under Owen Coyle.

Another knee issue prompted Gardner to seek help on the continent and write off the current campaign, but with a return to international football planned for next month, this won’t be the end of the road for the popular figure we’ve come to know as Bibi.

Such is his affinity with the fans, that a number have called for the club to grant him a testimonial – an issue that was spoken about four years ago when it was mooted that a Caribbean XI could play at the Reebok.

And it would certainly seem fitting that the man whose 29 goals for the club included memorable strikes against Preston North End in the play-off final victory at the Millennium Stadium and Bayern Munich in the famous 2-2 draw in the UEFA Cup, should be given a proper chance to say goodbye.

Gardner did take to his recently opened Twitter account yesterday to pay a tribute in 140 characters.

“Thanks for the kind messages. Enjoyed every moment at BWFC, great club with great supporters.Wish them all the best for the future. God Bless.”

Considering what a shy teenager he was when he arrived all those years ago, Gardner went on to mature incredibly under the eyes of the Wanderers fans.

Outside football, he launched his own record label – Heart of Love Productions – and has achieved legendary status in his home country for consistent charity work.

It is all a far cry from the young whippersnapper who burst onto the scene in the Championship as a raw, pacy winger, and scored just 60 seconds into his league debut at West Brom. But as Wanderers established themselves in the big time, Sam Allardyce opted to employ him as a raiding wing-back, which would remain his calling until the arrival of Gary Megson in 2007.

Lacking creativity in the middle of the park, Megson used the tenacious Gardner primarily as a central midfielder, and his nomadic existence would continue under his successor Owen Coyle. The current Whites boss never really got to see the best of the boy from St Andrew, however, and some were surprised when the club offered him another 12 months on appearance-related terms last summer.

Gardner managed only six appearances in league and cup this season but showed he was anything but a spent force with a fine display at full-back in the Carling Cup win at Aston Villa.

Injuries hit home once more at the end of 2011, leaving the 33-year-old one of 15 players released as the club dropped out of the Premiership.

It was a disappointing way to end his affiliation with Bolton, but those who watched him grow up will join us in thanking him for the memories.