It is hard to believe that Gareth Bale was once considered something of a Tottenham jinx, having appeared in 24 Premier League games for the North London club without being on the winning side.
An incredible and record-breaking statistic, but nothing as incredible as the Welsh international’s rise to fame as a quality player of global stature and now the double PFA Players’ Player and Young Player of the Year.
Comparisons with the likes of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo – himself a double PFA award winner in 2007 - are commonplace, and colleagues, opponents, managers and writers alike are rapidly running out of superlatives.
Yet whilst the free-scoring Spurs playmaker is often described as being ‘on a different planet’ his talented feet remain on ‘terra firma’, and the way he conducts himself, humbly and modestly, is a lesson to all.
After receiving his awards at last night’s gala PFA dinner in London, Bale was eager to pay tribute to his teammates and his manager, insisting ‘these awards are for them’. He added: “This is reward for all their hard work and the help they have given me. I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Bale said that it was a ‘massive honour’ to have won the main PFA award for a second time and to once again have his name up there in lights alongside ‘so many legends of the game’.
Whilst the ever-modest Welshman is always reluctant to blow his own trumpet, Spurs manager Andre Villas-Boas is more than happy to sing the praises of one of the best players in the world.
AVB said: “He is an amazing player, who is so dedicated to his job. He has developed so much over the last year, and he deserves this type of recognition. I am extremely happy for him.”
Bale is quite frankly a unique talent. When you can combine the technical ability and intricate footwork of Messi with the pace, power and purpose of Ronaldo, what more is there to add?
Bale in full flight is a sight to behold for teammates and Tottenham followers alike – but a nightmare for those charged with the task of tackling the science of perpetual motion.
Speculation linking Bale with a move to the continent is never going to go away. Typically, the player himself has no interest in such stories, whilst his manager dare not contemplate life at the Lane without his electrifying talisman.
In summary, AVB explains: “For Spurs to lose Gareth would be the same as Real losing Ronaldo, or Barcelona losing Messi; a disaster.”
Bale said: "It's a massive honour. To be voted by your peers is one of the biggest things in the game. It's great to win it and I am delighted.
"When you look at the list, there are some massive names on it but I couldn't have done it without the team. They have been fantastic this year and so has the manager. "
"I have been shooting a lot more, and I have been coming inside a lot more, too," he added.
"There are a few goals which I enjoyed. The one against Norwich was one of my favourites, and the West Ham one.
"Those two are my favourites from this season. I have a few less assists this year but I am in more scoring positions these days and that has obviously helped my scoring tally as we have seen this season."The 23-year-old has scored 19 goals in 29 games for Spurs and also had four assists and created 68 chances in a stellar season.