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Fulham boss Jol: I tried to take Bale on loan

Jol managed Tottenham from 2004-07, during which time Bale arrived at White Hart Lane from Southampton.

Speaking ahead of his return to North London with his current club for Sunday's Premier League clash, Jol expressed his pride in the Welshman's continued rise, and also explained how he made a cheeky attempt to lure the youngster to Germany.

"I saw Bale at Southampton when he was 15," Jol told Fulham's official website. "We followed him after that and I convinced him to come to Spurs. In hindsight, that was very satisfying as he’s [now] the best player in the Premier League. He shows that week in, week out. He’s getting stronger and stronger and in the hole he’s probably even better.

"I even tried to sign him on loan at Hamburg. He'd played 20 games without winning at Spurs but they knew he was an exciting player. They did well to keep him."

Jol led Spurs to what were at the time their best ever Premier League campaigns in 2006 and 2007, with the North Londoners twice finishing fifth.

Tottenham currently sit third in the Premier League and are aiming to secure a return to the Champions League, and the Fulham boss believes his former employers have established themselves as one of English football's best.

"They’ve done well over the last three or four years, it’s not only this season," the Dutchman insisted. "They are top-four material and at one stage under Harry Redknapp they were going for the title. I maybe started the foundation there and after that it just got better and better."

Fulham travel to White Hart Lane on the back of three league matches unbeaten and looking to secure a place in the top half of the Premier League in their final nine matches of the season.