Tuesday 06 August 2013
PFA Players' Player of the Year, PFA Young Player of the Year, FWA Footballer of the Year, Barclays Player of the Year, the awards said it all; in the 2012/13 Premier League season, Gareth Bale was first among equals. Although supremely talented, the Tottenham Hotspur midfielder is an extremely modest man. Here he explains how he couldn't have won the awards alone, but that they didn't arrive by luck, and he still has much to learn.
9 - Gareth Bale scored more winning goals than any other player in the 2012/13 Barclays Premier League season
"I've always had natural talent but it wasn't always to my advantage. In P.E. lessons at school, because the teacher thought I was quite good, I wasn't allowed to use my left foot and got restricted to one touch. I always used to sneak a left-foot shot away now and again when he wasn't looking. At the time it annoyed me a little bit, because as a kid you just want to run through a team and try and score goals. But looking back it was good for my development and I've got great memories of playing in school with my friends. But that's what football should be: fun.
"It looks like I picked up awards for fun but I'm deeply honoured. To be voted the best of anything is a great tribute. It's humbling to be voted the Players' Player of the Year by the guys that you step onto a pitch and compete with. The Football Writers' Award too - they watch us players week in, week out, so they have good opinions of the game. If you look at all the past winners of those awards they're all legends of the game and to share that with them now is a massive privilege.
"But in football you don't win anything on your own. I've always said that everything I've achieved is down to my teammates. As a unit we worked so hard last season and I wasn't anything without them. It's the same with records; I tend to let other people think about them. I don't start a season thinking I'm going to break a record, but it was decent to be the first Tottenham Hotspur player since Jürgen Klinsmann to score over 20 Premier League goals. When you look back at the season and you find you have done that it is something to be very proud of.
25 - Gareth Bale's goals won 25 points during the campaign; only Robin van Persie's won more (26)
"I'm also very proud to be part of this Tottenham Hotspur team. In every way possible the team has been fantastic this year. We went on good runs and had a few blips, but we always bounced back. There is confidence and belief in this team. The manager has given us that and I think it's showed in every game we've played in.
"I certainly wouldn't like to play at home against us. When teams are on their own patch they will obviously attack but we have an abundance of pace to hit teams on the counter attack. That fell into our hands a little last season for us a team; and me as a player because the majority of my goals came away from home.
"Confidence is like the old Gary Player line, the more you practice the luckier you get. I worked hard at my game and I loved the free role I had last season. Andre Villas-Boas has been fantastic for me, playing me in different positions where I'm able to find the space and show my stuff. No-one wants to be stuck on the wing where you get a couple of markers put on you to take you out of the game. That free role is fantastic; you can go for a wander and try and find the space to affect games pretty much for the 90 minutes. But I've also been practising my new role in training all season and working incredibly hard with the manager on tactics, so what we achieved was not by accident.
73 - The most shots on target in the Barclays Premier League
"It helps also that I’ve never been fitter. When you're coming in to the last 10 minutes of a game and you know you need to win, sometimes a player ups their game a bit. On a Premier League pitch I feel going in to the last 10 minutes that I'm one of the strongest on the pitch with my fitness, so I've been able to contribute at good times in the game and I was a decent help to the team last season.
"The reason I'm playing so well is I'm enjoying life. I've started a family and I work in a great environment at Spurs, so I really enjoyed last season very much. But I've still much to learn. I've only started last season in that free role position so my journey there has just started. There are still aspects of every part of my game that I need to improve. I say to myself at the beginning of every season I want to improve again and 2013/14 will be no different."
This interview is taken from the Premier League's 2012/13 Season Review. To read more from the review, click here >>