It’s hard to believe that Gareth Bale used to be seen as a bad luck charm for Tottenham. A product of the famed Southampton youth system, Bale was signed by Tottenham for an initial £5 million in the summer of 2007 after impressing in his break through season with the saints. Bale, a promising left back, was only 17 years old at the time of his move to North London but was confident of his ability to step up his game and play in England’s top division. Already a Welsh international (Bale was the youngest ever player to represent Wales aged 16 years and 315 days), Bale’s future looked rosy with then manager Martin Jol excited by the prospect of the youngster. But all did not go to plan for Tottenham or Bale. Bad luck appeared to follow Bale during the first two years of his career at Spurs, with a series of injuries limiting his playing time. When he was fit however, the bad luck did not disappear and unfortunately for Bale, he was quickly marked by the media and fans as a bad luck charm as Tottenham were unable to win with Bale on the pitch. The streak lasted for two years and severely damaged the youngsters confidence and credibility so much so that Spurs looked at options to with ship him out on loan or sell him.
That was until a sit down with manager Harry Redknapp in 2009, gave Bale back the confidence he had been lacking. Redknapp felt badly for the young full back and looked to help him develop as a player. What Redknapp did was move Bale to a more attacking role on the left-wing, allowing the player express himself more and utilize the electric pace he had to its fullest. The move gave Bale the freedom he needed and re installed the belief in his own ability that had been lacking in the past two years. Shortly after the move, Bale ended his run of bad luck in the Premiership by featuring in the 2-1 win over Burnley, which would act as the spring-board towards where Bale is now. Since that game, Bale has not looked back and has now become one of the most feared wingers in the world today.
Now 23 years old, Bale is playing some of the best football of his short career, for both club and country. As a vital cog in both teams setup, Bale’s success has been mostly down to three things – his blistering turn of pace, his close control and self drive. It is clear from watching Bale this season that he is a man possessed, keen to show those who doubted his ability in those troublesome years that he has what it takes. With 18 goals to his name this season and numerous assists for both club and country, its hard to argue with Bale now. Both Spurs and Wales look towards Bale for inspiration and nine times out of ten he delivers. When Wales were trailing Scotland 1-0 in a vital World Cup Qualifying match, it was Bale that stepped up to grab the two goals that eventually won Wales the game. And against Newcastle at the weekend, It was Bale’s performance and brace that push Tottenham on to gaining a vital three points. Bale is quite simply indispensible to both Tottenham and Wales with both looking out of sorts when he doesn’t feature.
With Real Madrid and Barcelona likely to be fighting over Bale’s signature this summer, Tottenham are in for a major payday if they decide to sell the exciting Welshman. Spurs are likely to hold out for over $50 million before finally letting their prize asset leave , which is a considerable markup on the $3 million they were posed to accept from Birmingham in 2009 for Bale just before Redknapp halted the move. Current Tottenham boss Andre Villas Boas has built his team around Bale and will not want to lose him even if it gives him the cash injection he has been looking for. After all how do you go about replacing a player like Bale? It’s strange to think that less than three years ago, Bale was surplus to requirements at Spurs, a bad penny that they couldn’t get rid of quick enough.
Now Bale has transformed from that ugly duckling into the golden goose and Tottenham will be doing everything in their power to keep him. Bale feels a sense of loyalty to the club that stood by him during those dark years but will be tempted by the prospect of testing his new-found ability in La Liga. No matter where he ends up next season, one thing is for certain – Bale will continue to terrify defenders in what ever league he plays in, much to the surprise of many who wrote him off all those years ago.