On the 16 July 1989, Debbie Bale had given birth to her baby boy, Gareth Frank Bale, in Cardiff, Wales. Little did she know, she had given birth to a young man who would dominate British football and would develop into a footballing icon for many up and down the country.
Gareth Bale has fast established himself as one of the best players in English football. His speed, touch, vision and excellent awareness, are just a few of many attributes that make him one of the Premier League’s best. Starting his career at Southampton at age 9, he grew to become a regular for the Saints at left back, before moving to Tottenham for £5 million. His first few years at White Hart Lane were erratic. He was constantly in and out of the side and couldn’t stake a place for first team football. He was even branded “the curse of Tottenham Hotspur” as he played a record 24 Premier League games over 2 seasons, without being on the winning side once. It was a dark time for Bale, and many branded him as not good enough for a Tottenham side who were challenging for European qualification. Benoit Assou-Ekotto was in brilliant form for Spurs, and was keeping Gareth Bale out of the squad. A frustrated Bale was seen on the bench game after game and many speculated whether he would remain at Tottenham for much longer.
Luck came his way however when finally he got his chance in the first team due to an injury to Assou-Ekotto. He faced Peterborough United in the FA Cup, and impressed by setting up two goals and Spurs winning the game 4-0. That man of the match performance saw Bale keep his place in the starting eleven.
Since then, Bale hasn’t looked back. Bale was known by the British public when he signed for Tottenham, but not many predicted him to be the player that he is today. He has helped Spurs to European qualification and glory, being a key member of Tottenham’s first Champions League appearance scoring goals against FC Twente and most notably getting his first senior hat trick against Inter Milan at the San Siro. This young man from Wales, who was unheard of, started growing worldwide recognition for terrific performances week in week out. His pace, first touch, physical qualities and great awareness are just a few of many traits that have made the footballing world admire his superiority on the pitch. Rumours started circulating about his future. Would he stay at Tottenham? Would he move to a rival club like Chelsea? Or would he move abroad? He answered the curious media by signing a new 4 year deal at Spurs keeping him at the club until 2016. Now in his 7th year of professional football, the question that is being asked most frequently by fans and the media is, can he compete with Messi and Ronaldo for the title ‘best in the world’ ?
Many say he is up there with the best. However he is not the best. Why? When we look at Ronaldo and Messi, we consider these two the best because they have the ability to change a game by themselves. One moment of brilliance from the El Clasico pair could be the difference between a win or a draw, a league title or runner up medal. Messi and Ronaldo are considered the best, because there is something special they possess in order to make fans appreciate and have a high regard for their talent. Messi and Ronaldo have both scored spectacular goals in important games that even make the opposition support stand up and applaud.
When we take all this into consideration and look at Gareth Bale, I believe he has all the same qualities mentioned. Bale has the ability to not just change a game for Tottenham, but win a game for them single-handedly. Bale has that something special which can leave people speechless. His goal against West Ham was remarkable. The score stood at 2-2 and West Ham were happy to hold on for the point. The clock was ticking and 20 seconds of normal time remained. The West Ham midfield stood off him, and with a few extra yards space Bale struck the ball with such power and placement, that it soared into the top right hand corner. A moment of brilliance from Bale meant that Spurs took all 3 points home with them.
Now if we place Messi and Ronaldo in the ‘something special’ category, for doing exactly what Bale has done, then surely he has to be considered part of the best? Yes, Messi and Ronaldo have been consistently performing for their respective clubs, and some argue that they have been playing better for longer than Bale. Nonetheless, at this moment in time Gareth Bale has been nothing short of sensational. In my opinion, currently he is the best player in Europe. He can change a game with a simple pass to set up a goal, or a tantalising 30 yard shot that soars into the net. Then again, nothing can be taken away from Ronaldo or Messi. Possibly the best three players in the game at the present are Messi, Ronaldo and Bale. They are constantly changing ranks and many people have their own opinions about who is the best. This week sees Tottenham take on Arsenal and Inter Milan. With Bale in top form, could another moment of magic from Bale make it another week for him to remember?