That mindblowing treble against Inter, the stupefying volley at Stoke and a thunderbolt against today’s visitors West Ham… Gareth Bale’s first spell was defined by super strikes and breathtaking displays, but what was his finest moment in a Spurs shirt?
- Gareth Bale is set to make his second Tottenham debut against West Ham
- The Welsh star rejoined Spurs from Real Madrid on loan in the summer window
- Bale,31, scored 55 goals in 203 appearances in his first stint in north London
- Here, Sportsmail takes a look at his finest moments from that six-year stint
Gareth Bale is in line for his second Tottenham debut when London rivals West Ham visit north London on Sunday – and if his first spell at the club is anything to go by then it could be another whirlwind ride.
The 31-year-old rejoined the club on a season-long loan deal last month from Real Madrid but has had to wait for his bow due to a knee injury suffered on Wales duty last month.
But Bale appears on the verge of a return to the Spurs side having built up his fitness over the international break, and fans are hoping he will provide more of the fireworks that saw him claim a former world-record move to the Spanish capital.
He scored 55 goals in 203 appearances in his first spell with the club, and here Sportsmail delves into Premier League and Champions League archives to look back at some of his best strikes in his first Tottenham spell…
Gareth Bale is in line for his second Spurs debut against West Ham after joining in the summer
Here, Sportsmail takes a look at some of the defining moments from his first spell at Tottenham
Having scored five goals in their previous two games, including three against eventual runners-up Manchester City, Tottenham were expected to make light work of mid-table Southampton.
The visitors created many of the better chances on the day but a piece of magic from former Saints man Bale ensured Tottenham remained on course to push Arsenal all the way for Champions League qualification.
Nine of Bale’s 21 goals that season came from outside the box – a Premier League record for a single season to this day – and the penultimate long-distance effort of the campaign began with him cutting inside and firing at goal while still running at full pelt.
But rather than result in an aimless attempt, it arrowed low and fizzed past the helpless Artur Boruc to the delight of a roaring White Hart Lane.
Bale scored nine league goals outside the box in 2012-13, including this against Southampton
9. Norwich (A) – January 2013
Stunning solo goals have been frequent occurrences for Bale throughout his career and this 60-yard dash against Norwich salvaged a point for Spurs in a scrappy affair at Carrow Road.
A hopeful clearance from Benoit Assou-Ekotto found Lewis Holtby, whose flick was perfect for Jermain Defoe to lay back to the onrushing Bale inside the centre circle in the Spurs half.
But what had not appeared immediately dangerous soon had alarm bells ringing in the Canaries defence as Bale breezed past the challenge of Alex Tettey and beared down on the backpeddling Javier Garrido on the edge of the home penalty area in a matter of seconds.
Tettey and Garrido closed on him but were unable to prevent him from shifting the ball into an area conducive for him to fire into the bottom left corner, which he duly did despite the desperate last-ditch challenge of Michael Turner.
Bale’s 60-yard dash at Carrow Road rescued a point for Spurs at Norwich in a scrappy affair
8. Manchester City (A) – January 2012
It will be chaotic match that will most likely be remembered for Mario Balotelli’s red card escape and injury-time winner from the penalty spot, but Bale’s sumptuous finish restored parity and was the fourth strike in nine crazy second-half minutes at the Etihad Stadium.
Aaron Lennon drove forward on the Tottenham left and checked inside to Bale with the visitors all of a sudden in the ascendancy after Jermain Defoe’s strike had halved the deficit following City goals from Samir Nasri and Joleon Lescott.
However, rather than lashing the ball with power, the Welshman preferred to demonstrate his technical qualities here, sweeping home a delicious strike from just outside the area.
Joe Hart’s scrambling efforts were in vain with neither Gareth Barry nor Samir Nasri able to prevent Bale from exhibiting his finesse with a truly memorable goal.
Bale’s equaliser at Manchester City saw him score the last of four goals in nine crazy minutes
7. Sunderland (H) – May 2013
Tottenham were well in the hunt for Champions League qualification ahead of the final day of the 2012-13 Premier League season, and their talisman struck to raise hopes of making it into Europe’s elite club competition.
They had found it difficult to find an opening against final-day opponents Sunderland at White Hart Lane, and with Arsenal – a place above Spurs in fourth – winning at Newcastle, Andre Villas-Boas’ side’s dream looked over.
However, cometh the hour cometh the man the saying goes and the Welshman did just that in trademark style, smashing home yet another stunning curling effort to lift the roof off at White Hart Lane.
He took one huge shimmy to cut in from the right before unleashing a devastating 30-yard effort that left Simon Mignolet helpless, and despite the day ending in glorious failure with the Gunners holding on in the north east, it was a reminder of just what Spurs would miss after he sealed his £86million deal to Real Madrid that summer.
Bale put Spurs close to Champions League qualification with a stunner against Sunderland
6. Man United (A) – September 2012
There is no shortage of stunning individual efforts in this list and Old Trafford would be the stage of yet another showreel classic for Bale as Spurs ended their 23-year wait for a win at Manchester United.
The move once again originated around the centre circle, with Moussa Dembele slipping the ball to Bale just inside the United half.
Defoe provided an excellent decoy run to attract the attention of Jonny Evans, leaving the Welshman a clear run at veteran defender Rio Ferdinand, who was unable to deal with the Spurs star’s pace.
He had no issue darting past the former England defender before – this time with his right foot – showing commensurate composure to slot the ball into the bottom corner past Anders Lindegaard.
Bale helped Spurs to their first win at Manchester United in 23 years with a stunning solo effort
5. Arsenal (H) – September 2007
Bale netted five Premier League goals against Spurs’ bitter rivals and you have to go all the way back to 2007 for his first which no doubt helped endear him to the home fans after a difficult start to life at the club.
Fifteen minutes into the first north London derby of the new season, the Welshman put the hosts into the lead and made a fool of Manuel Almunia by whipping a ball from the left of the area around the Arsenal wall and past the Spaniard at his near post.
It showed the prowess from set pieces that he naturally possessed and would continue to harness to send Spurs fans delirious as he became more experienced.
But the strike would prove futile as the Gunners stormed back with a double from Emmanuel Adebayor and a thunderbolt from Cesc Fabregas as they claimed a comeback 3-1 victory.
Bale scored five goals against Arsenal in his first Spurs spell, the first a free-kick in 2007
4. West Ham (A) – February 2013
Bale at times single-handedly ensured Spurs remained in contention for a top-four finish during the aforementioned 2012-13 season, and it was his last-gasp stunner at West Ham that well and truly signalled he would ensure they would not fall away before May.
Bale had been fouled in the build-up but after the referee had played advantage, the ball was back at his feet with the Hammers keen to form two solid banks of defensive formation to ensure they were not played through.
However, what no defensive strategy can account for is a bullet from a magician, and that is exactly what Bale delivered in the 90th minute.
Again the shimmy onto his left was too quick for midfielders to react, as was the strike into the far corner which Jussi Jasskelainen did not even have time to dive for.
He ensured Spurs would remain in the top-four hunt with a last-gasp stunner at West Ham
3. Lyon (H) – February 2013
In form in particular for the second half of the 2012-13 season, Bale was making Europe take notice of his talents too.
He had scored Spurs’ last four goals before they faced Ligue 1 side Lyon in the first leg of their last 32 Europa League tie with the French side.
Bale had missed an open goal before he brought the home crowd to their feet by sending a dipping 35-yard effort swerving past Remy Vercoutre.
The game was full of stunning goals and after Samuel Umtiti’s rocket, the pressure once again fell on Bale’s shoulders deep into injury time, and he did not disappoint before arrowing another swerving set piece past the Lyon keeper to give them the advantage heading to France.
The set piece specialist was in full flow by now.
A pair of excellent swerving free-kicks from Bale saw Spurs dramatically overcome Lyon
2. Stoke (A) – August 2010
Previous strikes have shown Bale can add finesse to his finishing quite as easily as merciless power, but no goal was quite as exquisite technically as his unforgettable volley at Stoke.
Bale had already netted in the first half at the Britannia Stadium but Ricardo Fuller’s equaliser meant Spurs had it all to do if they wanted to emerge victorious.
And the goal that would win it would be worthy of claiming a win in any match, beautifully slamming home a first-time volley from a clipped Aaron Lennon cross into the top corner.
Bale celebrating with former Spurs midfielder Jermaine Jenas after his brilliant volley at Stoke
1. Inter Milan (home and away) – October and November 2010
The Champions League ties against the Serie A side well and truly quietened the detractors as one of Europe’s rising stars delivered his pieces de resistance in a Spurs shirt.
A man down, and crucially 4-0 down at the San Siro, Spurs appeared dead and buried and headed for European humiliation in the group stages.
But a sparkling 21-year-old Bale saw the opportunity among all the misery, causing havoc in a miraculous second half that saw him net a mindblowing hat-trick to bring Spurs within inches of one of the greatest comebacks in Champions League history.
Bale’s piece de resistance came with a memorable hat-trick in a 4-3 defeat by Inter Milan
Two of his goals came as a result of devastating finishes after surging down the left-hand side, much to the terror of an ageing Inter defence.
A few weeks later would bring a sense of deja vu as in early November at White Hart Lane he would deliver a performance that is remembered to this day by giving experienced Brazilian defender Maicon his toughest test during his career, terrorising him and setting up two of Spurs’ three goals in the 3-1 win.
Fans knew then that they had unearthed a world-class performer, and now Spurs’ fans mouths will be salivating at the prospect of Bale tearing opposition defences to shreds once again.
He then terrorised Maicon (right) nearly a month later as Spurs beat the Italian side at home
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