Gardner, a Stafford-born giant measuring in at six foot five, made his league debut under Rudge at Vale Park before a £1m deal with Spurs in 2000.
"I'd had him from a young boy and he was looking a very promising prospect by that stage. He was so quick that he'd also had the opportunity to be an athlete. He was also strong, obviously tall and so pretty good in the air, and he was comfortable on the ball with a very good left foot.
"David Pleat was director of football at Tottenham back then and he rang me to ask if I thought he was capable of playing in the top flight.
"I said he was because he had that added ingredient of his great pace to go with his other assets.
"Competition has obviously been very difficult over the years at a club like Spurs, while there's been one or two injuries to contend with and even more managers.
"He seems to have acquitted himself very well, but what happens with regard to us is obviously a decision for the manager."