Saturday 25 May 2013
Premierleague.com rifles through the annals of the Barclays Premier League to find significant events.
Gareth Bale arrived at Tottenham Hotspur from Southampton after agreeing a four-year contract with the north London club.
"I really want to play in the Premier League. That's very important to me and this is a fantastic opportunity"
The Welshman, who was 17 when he was signed by Martin Jol, was the latest product of the Southampton academy that had developed Theo Walcott, who had signed for Arsenal.
"I'm just excited to be coming to a massive club like Spurs,” said Bale. “It's pushing forward and I want to be part of its future. I really want to play in the Premier League. That's very important to me and this is a fantastic opportunity. I've thought long and hard about it and feel the time is right to move on.
"I could have gone in January but I wanted to try and help Saints win promotion. I felt I owed them that and I didn't want to move mid-season. I wanted to keep my focus on learning and developing my game at a critical stage of the campaign."
Bale arrived at White Hart Lane as an aspiring left-back, making his debut in a pre-season friendly against St Patrick’s Athletic four days before his 18th birthday when he was substituted after 80 minutes after sustaining a dead leg.
Bale made a slow start to his career at White Hart Lane, making his debut in a 1-0 Barclays Premier League defeat by Manchester United at Old Trafford. Although he scored in his second match for the north Londoners, in the 3-3 draw with Fulham, it would be 25 Barclays Premier League matches before Bale experienced a Tottenham victory.
Injury and form reduced Bale to just 24 appearances in his first three seasons at the club as Benoit Assou-Ekotto claimed a regular place at left-back. But in the 2009/10 season after Harry Redknapp played him in a more advanced position on the left-wing, Bale began to thrive.
The Welshman’s reputation as a powerful winger gathered pace as he scored seven goals in the English top flight in the 2010/11 campaign and nine the next season, but Bale had his most impressive season in 2012/13 after new head coach Andre Villas-Boas deployed him in a free role behind the striker.
His 21 goals was the third-highest tally in the English top flight and earned him the quadruple honour of winning the PFA Footballer of the Year, the PFA Young Player of the Year, the FWA Footballer of the Year and the Barclays Footballer of the Year awards.