One of England’s greatest ever match anglers has revealed he has called time on his international career after 27 glittering years at the top of his game.
Steve Gardener has been a familiar face in the national setup since he was handed his debut in 1987 and has played a huge part in helping his country secure 11 team gold medals at the World Championships during his distinguished career.
Despite still fishing big open events on a regular basis, he was left out of the latest team that is set to do battle in Croatia this summer and the Milo-backed star has now decided to retire from international duty.
Angling Times spoke to Steve to discuss an action packed career that was littered with success.
After 27-years of fishing for England your journey has finally come to an end – how do you feel about it?
I feel absolutely fine. I never took fishing for my country for granted and it was always a question of time as to when it would happen. Now it has been confirmed that it is all over I can sit back and enjoy cheering the lads on from home.
What were your greatest highlights during your England career?
There are so many to choose from but being selected for the squad for the first time in 1987 is up there. Dick Clegg called me and asked whether I fancied joining the team for the World Championships in Portugal and I said yes. I came third in my section and we won team gold – it was a dream start.
Fishing in the World Championships on home soil at Holme Pierrepont in 1994 was incredible, as was the event in Italy in 2005 when Will Raison won gold and I took bronze.
There were a few disappointing moments as well – what was the lowest point of them all?
Every time you lose or the team doesn’t take a medal you hit a low point. The worst of them all would have been in Belgium in 2004.
The Swiss angler next to me hooked a big fish that ran out of his peg and as a result it didn’t count at the weigh in. That meant the French won the section and that in turn cost England the gold medal.
Could you have ever imagined your England career would have lasted this long?
I didn’t imagine for one minute I would have fished for my country for over two decades. Before my first call up, I never had any aspirations to get into the England team as I wasn’t sure I could handle the pressure. In all honesty, the nerves never disappeared and I still had them before the last World Championships I was involved in!
I’ve travelled the globe, fished with some of the best anglers in the world and been part of a squad that has kept the medals coming home. I couldn’t have asked for anything more.
Do you have any regrets?
People often ask whether not winning an individual gold medal irritates me, but it honestly never has. It was all about performing for the team and I was fortunate enough to gain a silver and a bronze individually. I always put 100 per cent in to preparing and fishing for my country and if I could do it all again I wouldn’t change a thing.
Who is the best angler you ever fished with?
I have been surrounded by a lot of world class anglers but without a doubt the best of them all is Will Raison. He has got the full package – he always gets his tactics and feeding right and he has the motivation and desire to be the best. I know for a fact he will eventually emulate the likes of Bob Nudd and Alan Scotthorne when it comes to individual gold medals.
How strong do you think the current England setup is?
There are a lot of talented juniors coming through such as Callum Dicks, Bradley Gibbons and Lee Kerry who have the potential to be world stars. They have all got great ability and if they remain committed and focused they will be selected for England time and time again.
What does the future hold for you?
I just want to keep going fishing and being competitive at a high level. I still spend hours preparing and everything has got to be perfect. One thing is for sure, this isn’t the end of Steve Gardener.
Click here for more angling news...