On 17 April 2006, at the age of 16 years and 275 days, Bale became the second youngest player ever to play for Southampton (after Theo Walcott, who was 132 days younger) when he made his debut in the Saints' 2'0 victory against Millwall. On 6 August, Bale scored his first league goal, a free kick, to level the score at 1'1 against Derby County. The final score at Pride Park was 2'2.
He scored again, at St. Mary's, against Coventry City in the team's second game of the 2006'07 season with another free kick. Bale further developed his reputation as a free kick specialist when he struck the post from one against West Bromwich Albion. By 16 December 2006, Bale's goal count had risen to five, thanks to a late equaliser against Sunderland and free-kicks away to Hull[ and at home to Norwich City.
In December 2006, he won the Carwyn James Award for the BBC Wales Young Sports Personality of the Year, and was named the Football League Young Player of the Year on 4 March 2007. This capped what was described in the local press as an "incredible" first full season as a professional footballer in which he was one of the Saints' "most creative players even (though operating) from the left-back position whilst his defending improved immeasurably as the season progressed."
His final game for Southampton was in the first leg of the Championship play-off semi-final against Derby County on 12 May 2007. Bale suffered an injury during the second half, preventing him from appearing in the second leg.In total, he made 45 appearances for Southampton, scoring five goals.
On 25 May 2007, Bale signed a four year deal with Tottenham Hotspur with Spurs paying an initial £5 million for Bale, potentially rising to £10 million based on appearances and success. However, Tottenham paid Southampton an early settlement payment of £2 million in 2008 to reduce the final fee to £7 million and allow the Saints the immediate cash that they desperately needed.
He played his first game for Spurs in a friendly against St. Patrick's Athletic on 12 July 2007, but was substituted on the 80th minute with a minor dead-leg. He made his competitive debut for Tottenham Hotspur on 26 August away against Manchester United. In just his second Spurs appearance, he scored his first goal for Tottenham in the 3'3 draw with Fulham on 1 September when he latched on to Robbie Keane's flick, charged down the left flank unopposed and coolly slotted past goalkeeper Antti Niemi. Bale went on to score again against Arsenal in the North London Derby, scoring a free kick inside the near post. He then scored in the League Cup home tie against Middlesbrough, making it three goals in four starts for the then 18-year-old. He also set up Spurs' goal against Anorthosis Famagusta in the UEFA Cup.
Bale was substituted after sustaining an injury resulting from a tackle from Fabrice Muamba in the league fixture against Birmingham City on 2 December 2007. A scan revealed that Bale had suffered ligament damage to his right ankle, consigning him to an extended period on the sidelines. Spurs' sporting director Damien Comolli announced in February 2008 that Bale would miss the rest of the season through injury.
He signed a new four-year deal with the club in August 2008. Bale was given the number 3 shirt for the 2008-09 season, which left previous number 3 Lee Young-Pyo without a squad number. After some poor performances, Bale was dropped in favour of Beno't Assou-Ekotto and the latter remained first-choice for most of the season.
After playing a record 24 Premier League games for Spurs without being on the winning side, Bale's first ever involvement in a Premier League victory came against Burnley on 26 September 2009 ' more than two years after signing for Spurs ' when he came on as an 85th minute substitute.
In June 2009, Bale underwent surgery for a knee injury, ruling him out for over two months. He missed pre-season matches and it was projected that he would miss the first few weeks of the 2009'10 season. On 26 September, he made his comeback as a substitute in the Spurs' 5'0 thrashing of Burnley. However, he endured a frustrating time on the bench as Beno't Assou-Ekotto was in good form. When Assou-Ekotto was sidelined with an injury, manager Harry Redknapp decided to give Bale a chance and he impressed in the Spurs' FA Cup third-round 4'0 win over Peterborough. He finally tasted victory for the first time as a starter in a league game in the 2'0 win over London rivals Fulham on 26 January 2010. His good form continued and he was named Player of the Round after helping the Spurs to a 3'1 win in the sixth round replay of the FA Cup against Fulham. In April 2010, Bale scored another goal against Arsenal after a pass from Defoe he tapped the ball past the Arsenal keeper. Three days later, Bale slammed in Tottenham's second with his weaker right foot in a 2'1 victory over leaders Chelsea and was named Man of the Match. He was named Barclays Player of the Month for April. He signed a new four-year contract at White Hart Lane on 7 May 2010 as a reward for helping the club reach the Champions League qualification place.
On 21 August, Bale scored twice in a 2'1 win at Stoke City, the second of which was a head-high volley into the top right hand corner of the goal. On 25 August, Bale set up all four goals to help Spurs overcome Young Boys 4'0 (6'3 agg.) in a Champions League play-off at White Hart Lane. Although Assou-Ekotto had already returned from injury, Bale continued his good form and cemented his place in the starting eleven, moving forward to left wing to accommodate Assou-Ekotto at left back. On 29 September 2010, Bale scored his first Champions League goal for Tottenham in a 4'1 home win against Dutch champions FC Twente in their second game of the group stages. In recognition, he was named Welsh Player of the Year by the FAW. On 20 October, Bale scored his first senior hat trick against European champions Internazionale at the San Siro in the Champions League. Tottenham lost the match 4'3, having been 4'0 down inside the first 35 minutes and playing with ten men for over 80 minutes of the match after goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes had been sent off in the eighth minute for a professional foul on Inter's Jonathan Biabiany. In the return match at White Hart Lane on 2 November, Bale provided a man of the match performance, setting up goals for Peter Crouch and Roman Pavlyuchenko to earn Spurs a memorable 3'1 win.
On 4 November, Bale stated that he intended to remain at Tottenham for the remainder of his recently-signed four-year contract, despite reported interest from other clubs. On 19 March 2011, Tottenham announced Bale had extended his stay at the club until 2015.
On 17 April 2011, Bale was honoured with the PFA Player of the Year award, as voted for by his peers. Amidst rumours linking him with Chelsea, Barcelona and a host of clubs, Bale decided to stay at White Hart Lane.
He scored his first goal of the season on 24 September 2011, in an away game against Wigan Athletic. The game ended in a 2'1 victory for Tottenham. He added his second and third goals of the season on 30 October with two goals against Queens Park Rangers in a 3'1 home win. He continued his good form with the first goal in a 3'1 victory over Fulham the following week, whilst also setting up Aaron Lennon who made it 2'0 on the stroke of half time. The first goal against Fulham was later ruled by the "dubious goals committee" to be an own goal by Chris Baird.
On 3 December, Bale scored the first goal in Tottenham's 3'0 victory over Bolton Wanderers. He marked the goal with a tribute to Gary Speed by holding up his left boot, with "R.I.P Gary Speed" stitched on it, in front of the Bolton fans. On 27 December, Bale scored twice to give Tottenham a 2'0 win against Norwich City. On 5 January 2012, Bale was announced as one of the players voted into the UEFA Team of the Year 2011. He scored his third brace of the season as he scored twice against Wigan on 31 January to take his tally to ten goals for the season. In January 2012 he was announced as the January Premier League Player of the Month for the second time in his career, after three goals and two assists in the Premier League for the month.
Style of play
Bale originally started out playing as left back, but because of his great pace and dribbling skills, he was moved forward to play as a left winger
On 2 November 2010, after a Champions League group stage match against Internazionale, teammate Rafael van der Vaart said, "Everyone is scared of him [Bale]. Maicon is one of the best defenders in the world, and he's killed him."
In a report of the same match, Spanish newspaper El Mundo said:
Bale combines the height and build of an 800-metre runner like Steve Ovett with the acceleration and directness of a rugby winger like Bryan Habana. And, when he gets to the byline, he delivers curling crosses like a Brazilian. Big words? Yes, but that's what Bale is like ' easily the greatest sensation in the opening month and a half of the Champions League. Ask Maicon what he thinks after the two exhibitions Bale turned in against Inter. Yesterday he left Maicon for dead and then a wily old fox like Lúcio was left in his wake like someone trying to follow the vapour trail of an aeroplane. Three goals and two assists ' against the European champions. His performances have been stunning.
Following Bale's two goals against Norwich City on 27 December 2011, manager Harry Redknapp said:
If we sell him, we've had it haven't we? It would only be a Barcelona, a Man City or a Real Madrid who would be able to pay for him. He's an amazing player. He's got everything, there's not a weakness in his make-up. He can head the ball, he's as strong as an ox, he can run, dribble and shoot. Most important of all, he's a smashing lad.
Speaking at an interview in 2012, Manchester City fullback Micah Richards revealed that Gareth Bale was one of his toughest opponents he had ever faced, saying that:
"He made me feel an inch tall. Took me to pieces. He just doesn't stop running. It's ridiculous."
Bale was selected by Wales at the end of the 2005'06 season and made his international debut on 27 May 2006. He first appeared as a substitute in a 2'1 win over Trinidad and Tobago, making him the youngest ever player to play for Wales. Bale, who was just 16 years and 315 days, assisted the winning goal scored by Robert Earnshaw.
Brian Flynn commented that Bale was potentially a future star of the game, comparing his technical ability to that of Ryan Giggs. On 7 October 2006, Bale became the youngest player ever to score a goal for the full Welsh national team in the Euro 2008 qualification match against Slovakia with a trademark free kick. He scored his second goal for Wales in a 3'0 win over San Marino on 28 March 2007.
Bale was eligible to play for England through his grandmother, but he stated in 2007 that:
"It is an honour to play for Wales... Nobody ever got in touch with me personally from England, only through my agent."
After a long injury lay-off, he returned and started in the World Cup qualifier against Finland on 10 October 2009.On 14 October, he played a part in Wales' final World Cup qualifier by setting up David Vaughan to score the opening goal against Liechtenstein and won the free kick that led to the second, Aaron Ramsey's first at senior level.
In December 2010, Bale was awarded the BBC Cymru Sports Personality of the Year trophy.
Bale was called up to the Wales squad for the first time under Gary Speed to play against Australia on 10 August 2011. He previously missed the last four internationals with injury.
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|Date of Birth:||16/07/1989|
|Place of Birth:||Cardiff, South Wales.|
|Current Club:||Tottenham Hotspur|
|First Cap:||Trinidad & Tobago 2005-06|
|Age at First Cap:||16 years 315 days / 16 mlwydd a 315 diwrnod|
|Elligibility:||Birthplace / Man geni|
|Total Caps/Goals:||41 / 6|
|U17 Caps/Goals:||7 / 1 goal|