By News Team
21st September 2020
Gareth Bale has enjoyed quite the rollercoaster of a career to date – from working his way up the ranks at Southampton and Spurs to becoming the world’s most expensive player for Real Madrid.
He’s won a stack of trophies and awards along the way but having featured less frequently under Zinedine Zidane at Madrid, he’s now completed a move back home to Spurs on loan.
To mark Bale’s sensational return to north London, we’ve taken a look back at some of his greatest ever career moments.
Champions League final stunner
Bale enjoyed an incredible amount of success during his time at Madrid, including a remarkable four Champions League titles – but it is his fourth and final European triumph that Los Blancos fans will remember him most fondly for.
Heading into the 2018 final against Liverpool, Bale had already found himself in and out of the Real team under Zinedine Zidane, so much so that he had to make do with a place on the bench in Kiev. But with the scores tied at 1-1, Bale was brought on as a second-half substitute and needed just three minutes to make an impact.
The forward somehow managed to net a stunning overhead kick from all of 30 yards out to score one of the great Champions League final goals, before then making it 3-1 to Madrid with a second goal late on to secure a 13th European Cup for the Spanish club.
While Bale’s 2018 Champions League performance was one of his latter successes in a Madrid shirt, the 2014 Copa del Rey final marks the moment that the forward really arrived at the La Liga club. Having joined Madrid the previous summer from Spurs for a world-record fee, Bale found himself in the Copa del Rey final coming up against Real’s greatest rivals, Barcelona.
With the scores level at 1-1 after Marc Bartra had cancelled out Angel Di Maria’s opener, and with just five minutes left on the clock, Bale picked up the ball on the halfway line before knocking it past Bartra and outsprinting the defender in spectacular fashion, running off the side of the pitch and still somehow managing to beat his opponent. Bale then calmly approached Barcelona’s goal before slotting past Jose Manuel Pinto to win it for Madrid.
What a way to win over your new supporters.
Inter Milan at the double
While it was ultimately Bale’s sublime 2012-13 season that persuaded Madrid to part with a then world-record fee of £85 million to sign him, it was his pair of performances against Inter Milan for Spurs in the 2010-11 Champions League group stage that first alerted Europe’s big boys to his potential.
The first clash at the San Siro in October 2010 saw Spurs slump to an embarrassing 4-0 deficit at half-time. But Bale, now a newly converted winger for his club, took matters into his own hands and went on a rampage as he managed to net a second-half hat-trick as Spurs agonisingly missed out, losing 4-3.
But if the first clash saw Bale announce himself on the European stage, he would take it to another level in the return game at White Hart Lane. A month later and the winger was running riot down the left against the hapless Maicon, producing an astounding performance, including two assists, as Spurs claimed a famous 3-1 win against the European champions.
Awards season hat-trick
As mentioned, it was the 2012-13 season at Spurs that really transformed Bale into a truly global star. While Spurs missed out on the top four by just one point to arch-rivals Arsenal that year, it was pretty much thanks to Bale that they came so close.
The Wales international scored an impressive 31 goals across the campaign for both club and country, including an array of wonderful finishes for Spurs – from his last-gasp wonder goal to down West Ham to his two superb free-kicks to see off Lyon in the Europa League.
Such fine form was rightly rewarded at the end of the season as Bale won the PFA Player of the Year, PFA Young Player of the Year and Football Writers’ Association Player of the Year awards – a feat that only Cristiano Ronaldo had managed before him, and a player he would soon be calling a team-mate in Madrid.
Wales’ time to shine
While Bale has had bucketloads of success on the club scene, it was always assumed that he would struggle to taste achieve similar in international football with Wales. That was until Chris Coleman’s side qualified for Euro 2016 – the nation’s first major tournament in a mammoth 58 years.
While Welsh fans were delighted to be there in France, nobody could have foreseen the tournament that their side were about to have. With Bale leading the charge, they managed to finish above rivals England in their group before going on to shock a hugely talented Belgium side en route to reaching the semi-finals, where they lost to eventual winners Portugal.
Bale played a starring role in the run, scoring three goals, including one against England, as Wales captured the hearts of a nation.