Bale: Patience and hard work have prevailed

Tottenham Hotspur star Gareth Bale has put his rapid rise to prominence down to a combination of hard work and good fortune, as the Welsh wizard continues to impress this season.

The 21-year-old left-winger has riveted both the Premier League and Champions League over the past year with a series of scintillating displays down the left for Spurs, leading to a host of top European clubs casting envious glances in the direction of White Hart Lane.

But this time 12 months ago, Bale was struggling to break into the Spurs starting line-up after a string of niggling injuries, and was being linked with loan moves to Championship sides Nottingham Forest and Bristol City to regain his match sharpness and form.

"There was a lot of talk about me going on loan [this time last year] but Benoit Assou-Ekotto got injured, I got my chance and I’ve been prepared for a while, doing a lot of running after training just to get ready," Bale told Absolute Radio.

"I’ve had injuries and coming back from them hasn’t been too easy. I had to be patient and I think the major thing is the belief in your own ability. When you get given the opportunity then you’ve got to be ready to take it.

"I’m happy, I think the main thing is playing every week. I mean obviously I was playing week in week out at Southampton and I proved a lot and I find if I’m playing week in week out I’ve proven myself as a player and I want to continue to do that. The main thing is to just keep working hard and keep striving to improve and get better.”

Bale had to bide his time on the sidelines before being afforded a chance to impress against Peterborough United in the FA Cup Third Round last January, and the Welshman has not looked back since.

His resurgent form in the Premier League last season coincided with Harry Redknapp's men sealing a Champions League berth for the first time in their history, and Bale believes the whole club has grown in stature.

He added: "We're a lot more confident now, obviously qualifying for the Champions League and a string of good results in the league. We’ve all got more belief that we can compete up there with the best teams and we will be working our hardest to do that.

"I definitely feel like we’ve got the kind of squad that is capable of being up in the mix and, you never know, hopefully we can be in there with a shot.

"We’re going out there and trying to produce what we know we can. We’re not chasing things now, so we definitely know that we’ve got the ability in the team to do well and we’ve just got to prove it now.

"We go into every game looking to get at win and especially at home. We are all confident of beating anybody at home as we showed last season against Arsenal and Chelsea and this year against the likes of Inter Milan so we’re all confident that we can win games."

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By James Martini