Thursday, September 2, 2010

Wales hope for Bale inspiration

Venue: Gradski Stadium, Podgorica Date: Friday, 3 September Kick-off: 1830 BST Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio Wales, Radio Cymru & online, score updates on BBC Radio 5 Live and live text on BBC Sport website.

John Toshack gave Gareth Bale his Wales debut aged 17 in 2006
Bale made his Wales debut at 17 in 2006 and is Wales' youngest goal-scorer

John Toshack is not surprised by Wales superstar Gareth Bale's meteoric rise at Tottenham Hotspur.

The 21-year-old left-winger has been linked with Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona due to his stunning Premier League form this year.

"There a lot of people are looking at Gareth Bale now, " said the Wales boss.

"I know one club has made a big-money bid for him. Gareth is aware people are looking at him and talking about what he can do."

Boss Toshack handed Bale his Wales debut aged just 17 and instantly showed his star quality by setting-up Rob Earnshaw for Wales' winner against Trinidad and Tobago in May 2006.

Then the teenager scored a superb free-kick on his home debut in an otherwise forgettable 5-1 defeat by Slovakia making him Wales' youngest-ever scorer.

Bale joined Spurs in a £10m deal three years ago but his time at White Hart Lane has been hampered by injury and endured the stigma of starting a record 24 Premier League games without winning.

Now Bale has risen to "one of the top players in the Premier League" according to Wales captain Craig Bellamy, who also described him as "immense" after inspiring Spurs into the Champions League.

Chris Gunter hopes Gareth Bale heroics to 'light up' Wales

And now Bale, who scored a wonder goal in Spurs' 2-1 win at Stoke last month, is being chased by Europe's biggest clubs after taking the Premier League by storm - despite White Hart lane boss Harry Redknapp insisting he is not for sale.

"He's young and he still feels he's got a lot to learn," said Toshack.

"Harry is very pleased with him, he's recently signed a four-year contract and he's very happy where he is.

"He's settled at Spurs and he's also playing Champions League football which is another platform for him now.

"If he can steer clear of injury problems then he's got everything to become a big, big player."

Redknapp has already hailed Bale as the best left-sided player in Britain, and Toshack says he had no doubt the young Welshman would become one of football's hottest properties.

Bale, who will win his 25th cap on Friday, could hold one of the keys for Wales' hopes of opening their Euro 2012 campaign with a victory against Montenegro in Podgorica.

The former Southampton trainee looked to be on his way out of White Hart Lane last year after struggling to impress Redknapp.

But Bale was given a second chance in January when Cameroon left-back Benoit Assou-Ekotto left for the Africa Cup of Nations and the Cardiff-born player has not looked back since.

Toshack said: "Gareth's form is not a surprise to us.

"If you go back to the start of the last World Cup qualifying campaign two years ago, Bale was named man of the match in the first three games - against Azerbaijan, Russia and Liechtenstein.

"I know Harry thinks he's performed some kind of miracle at White Hart Lane but it's certainly no surprise to us. We saw it at an early age.

"We know full well what Gareth can do. He made his debut for Wales when he was 17. For us, there's been no question about his ability."

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