Tottenham forward Gareth Bale promises to put emotions aside in match against former club Southampton
The Spurs player has picked up both the PFA and Football Writer's player of the year awards in recent days
Friday 03 May 2013
Gareth Bale will forget any emotional attachment he has with Southampton tomorrow and instead concentrate on making his 200th Tottenham appearance a winning one.
Bale has enjoyed the most successful few days of his career this week, picking up a hat-trick of awards in recognition of the 24 goals he has scored for Spurs this term.
Yesterday the 23-year-old added the Football Writers' Association (FWA) Footballer of the Year award to his trophy cabinet just four days after he won Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year at the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) Awards.
He may have just become the only player other than Cristiano Ronaldo to pick up the prestigious treble in the same season, but the Welshman's mind is firmly focused on the visit of his former club Southampton to White Hart Lane tomorrow.
Bale enjoyed a meteoric rise through the youth ranks at Saints' famed academy, but he is determined to cast aside any emotion he feels towards the club so he can mark the landmark occasion with a vital win that will boost Tottenham's Champions League qualification bid.
"It's obviously great to get the 200 games under your belt and to make it against Southampton makes it even more special," Bale told Spurs TV Online.
"Hopefully I can it even more special with a win.
"They mean a lot to me, that club. I was there from nine-years-old until I was 17 so it's a club close to my heart and I still have a lot of friends down there.
"But no matter who the opposition is we need to win and we need to put ourselves right in contention."
Bale joined Southampton as a trainee in 2005 after spending many years training at the club's satellite academy in Bath.
The following year, aged 16 years and 275 days, he became the second-youngest footballer to play for the south-coast club.
Last October's 2-1 win over Saints was the first time he had played against the club since he left for White Hart Lane in 2007.
Although he would gladly take three points off Southampton's hands, Bale will not be celebrating if he scores against them - as was the case at St Mary's, where he scored the opening goal.
"It will be good, obviously, for us to win, but if I do score I will be muting my celebrations again like last time," Bale added.
"I had wanted to go back and play at Southampton for ages, but it didn't happen for a long time.
"I was looking at the cup draws hoping we would get them.
"It was nice to go back and get on the scoresheet but the most important thing for us is to concentrate on ourselves."
That 2-1 defeat left Southampton, then under the stewardship of Nigel Adkins, second from bottom of the Barclays Premier League.
But Mauricio Pochettino's appointment in January has helped the south-coast club climb out of the relegation zone, and they will pass the 40-point mark with a draw in north London tomorrow.
Bale is pleased that Saints are all but safe from the drop.
He added: "They have done well this season. I was hoping that they would stay up and it looks like they are going to.
"It was a big season and I hope they are going to continue to do well, apart from on Saturday."
Tottenham need to win tomorrow to keep up the pressure on Chelsea and Arsenal ahead of their game against the Blues on Wednesday night.
Spurs lacked cohesion in midfield at Wigan last week following the first-half withdrawal of Mousa Dembele with a hamstring problem.
The Belgian is likely to play tomorrow, though, which is welcome news for Villas-Boas.
"He has had a tremendous impact for us," the Tottenham manager said.
"He has had a great first season. We went through a period without Mousa that was very difficult. He is one of the biggest ball recoverers in the Premier League."
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