Gareth Bale targets Champions League qualification with Tottenham

Spurs winger puts European qualification first

Gareth Bale would gladly trade in his two PFA awards for a guaranteed top-four finish with Tottenham.

Not for the first time this season, Bale was the star of the show last night, winning the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) Player of the Year Award and the Young Player of the Year gong at a star-studded awards ceremony in central London.

The 23-year-old beamed with pride as he collected both awards, and during his acceptance speech re-iterated his desire to return to the biggest stage of all next season - the Champions League.

Tottenham's hopes of qualifying for Europe's biggest club competition took another blow on Saturday when they needed a last-gasp equaliser to snatch a draw at lowly Wigan.

Bale has been pleased with his remarkable season, which has yielded 29 goals for club and country, but qualifying for the Champions League is far more important to the Welshman, who thinks Tottenham have a bright future ahead of them.

"I definitely would do it," Bale said when asked if he would swap his two awards for a guaranteed top-four finish.

"Overall we have been doing fantastic this season.

"We still have quite a young squad when you compare us to a lot of the other teams.

"A lot of us are around a similar age. We have been together now for three or four years.

"We have grown up together and the confidence is there. We are still young, we are improving every season and hopefully we can reach our ambitions, which we know we can achieve."

Bale first announced himself on the world stage two seasons ago with two stunning displays against Inter Milan, but he has since gone on to become an even better footballer.

The former Southampton man has developed in to a deadly forward who is just as comfortable operating down the left or right and in his now-favoured position just behind a central striker.

His performances this season have led to speculation that Real Madrid are set to launch a big-money bid for the player, but Bale himself played down talk of a summer move last night, describing it only as "speculation".

If he continues his current form, Bale will more than double his previous best goal tally for a season of 15 and he thinks there is still plenty of room for improvement in his game.

"I definitely think I can improve," he said.

"There is still a lot for me to do. I have only just moved in to that role in the centre so there is still a lot for me to learn and hopefully I can continue to do that.

"As long as I keep working hard on the pitch and in training hopefully that will come true."

Some Spurs fans were aggrieved last season when former manager Harry Redknapp played Bale anywhere other than on the left wing, but he has impressed in his free role behind the striker this season.

"I'm still learning different parts of the game," he said.

"If you are struggling on the left you can go to the centre, and if you are struggling there you can move to the right so it's obviously great being able to play in a lot of positions and it does make you a better footballer.

"I have enjoyed playing all the positions. My favourite is probably the central role where you play behind the striker. There you can go left, right, short, deep... It's a role I have enjoyed and hopefully can keep improving on."

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Putin’s far-right ambition: Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU

Putin’s far-right ambition

Think-tank reveals how Russian President is wooing – and funding – populist parties across Europe to gain influence in the EU
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
Phil Hughes head injury: He had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Phil Hughes had one weakness – it has come back to haunt him

Prolific opener had world at his feet until Harmison and Flintoff bounced him
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital