Tottenham Hotspur’s Gareth Bale has been named as the Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year.
The 21-year-old has been in imperious form for Spurs in both the Barclays Premier League and UEFA Champions League this campaign, becoming one of the most talked about players in the world in the process.
Bale was also nominated for the Young Player of the Year award, but that went to Arsenal’s Jack Wilshere.
Bale becomes the fourth Welshman to be honoured, following in the footsteps of Ian Rush, Mark Hughes and Ryan Giggs.
”I am more than delighted really,” he said. ”It is a massive award and it is a great honour to receive, especially from other fellow professionals.
”It is an honour really when you look at the names that have won it before and it just makes you go ‘wow’ really.
”There haven’t been too many Welshman to have won the trophy but it is great and it is great for me personally.
”And it is not just for me, it is for all my team-mates that have helped me through the season and it is kind of for everyone really.”
Bale endured a tumultuous beginning to life at White Hart Lane following his move from Southampton, with his first year punctuated by injuries and an inability to secure a first-team starting spot.
However, the winger’s turnaround in fortunes has been nothing short of spectacular and he insists he never doubted his ability to reach the top.
”I think it is due to a bit of everything really,” he added.
”At the beginning I wasn’t really playing much and I always believed in myself that if I did get a run in the team – which I eventually did – that I would be able to prove what I can do.
”That did happen and I kind of never really looked back from there.
”Playing in a good team with good players definitely helped me a lot and all the boys have been fantastic, the manager has been fantastic, giving me my chance, and it is something I want to improve on.”
Bale took the award ahead of Arsenal midfielder Samir Nasri and Manchester City forward Carlos Tevez, who was third.
His manager Harry Redknapp said the gong was thoroughly deserved.
“It is great for him, he deserves it,” Redknapp said.
“It is a great award for him to win and I could not be more pleased.
“There were plenty of people that could have won it. Listen, you look at the people that have won it, for Gareth to have won it at such a young age it must be the proudest moment of his life. It is incredible.
“He has been brilliant, I am really pleased for him and he is a nice lad, which is the most important thing.”
Wilshere said winning the young player gong was “amazing”.
The 19-year-old has attracted plaudits from fans and pundits alike for his performances this season, during a campaign which has seen him establish himself as a key player for the England senior team.
”It is my first full season and it is a massive award, especially from my fellow players,” he said. ”It is amazing.
”I am very proud to be the fifth recipient from Arsenal, it is good to keep this history going.
”Arsenal is a good club for bringing youngsters through and they keep proving it so I would like to thank the manager as well.”
Wilshere has long been considered one of the brightest talents to come through the Gunners’ youth system in recent years and this time last year was on loan at Bolton honing his talent.
Now he is an integral member of Arsene Wenger’s side, showing skill and nous that belies his age.
”I am a bit surprised,” he added. ”I always knew I could do but still it was a surprise how early it came.
”I am delighted just to be in the team to win an award, so I have to keep it up now and hopefully we can win something this year.”
Bale finished just behind Wilshere in the young player voting, with Manchester United striker Javier Hernandez third.
World Cup final referee Howard Webb won the PFA Merit award and was recognised along for his achievements this year with long-term assistants Darren Cann and Mike Mullarkey.
”It came as a bit of a surprise really,” said Webb. ”It certainly is an honour to be recognised by such an esteemed body as the Professional Footballers’ Association. It means an awful lot.
”It is nice that the playing side of the game has taken this opportunity to mark what happened with us last year, the two finals that we did and I am very proud of that fact.”
PFA Premier League Team of the Year: Van der Sar (Manchester United), Sagna (Arsenal), Vidic (Manchester United), Kompany (Manchester City), Cole (Chelsea), Nani (Manchester United), Nasri (Arsenal), Wilshere (Arsenal), Bale (Tottenham Hotspur), Tevez (Manchester City), Berbatov (Manchester United).
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