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Gareth looks back

Gareth Bale says he was full of confidence going into the 2010-11 season and the rest, as they say, is history.

Gareth Bale says he was full of confidence going into the 2010-11 season and the rest, as they say, is history.

The Welshman experienced what could prove to be a career-defining campaign, setting Europe alight with his performances in the Champions League and picking up the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award at the end of it.

It came after a second half to the previous season in which he came in from the cold to break his way into Harry Redknapp’s side and play a key role in our top four Premier League finish.

And his impressive seven league goals in the first half of the season just gone was one of the factors in us looking like we would repeat that feat around the turn of the year.

But injuries ultimately got the better of the winger in the second part of the campaign, and those problems seemed to coincide with our own dip in form.

However, Gareth is focused on the positives, and said: “Coming into the season I felt confident playing all the time and I felt comfortable playing on the wide left. Then once the season started it felt like I was improving with every game.

“It was a good first half to the season but a frustrating second half for myself, picking up a little back injury, then a hamstring, then an ankle injury that finished my season. But aside from the injuries it was a good season all round and one I’m looking to build on.

“Hopefully I can get a good recovery in the off-season and be ready for pre-season and the new season.

“There has been a lot of ups rather than downs and that’s the main thing. We had a great run in the Champions League, a great run in the league and some good performances.”

Indeed, the Champions League is where Gareth seemed to really make his name – the 21-year-old is now widely seen as one of the best young players in Europe.

But it was the 45 minutes in which he single-handedly lifted us from the dead at the San Siro on October 20, 2010, that will live long in the memory.

His splendid hat-trick brought us back from 4-0 down against holders Inter Milan to bring us to within a goal of making it surely one of the greatest comebacks in football history.

Gareth recalls: “At half-time I don’t think anybody thought it was going to be one of those nights to remember, but the team dug in. We had 10 men but I think we looked the better team in the second half.

“To score a hat-trick was a great achievement personally but it turned one of those horrendous defeats into one that didn’t look so bad in the end.

“I enjoyed playing in the Champions League more than anything. It’s one of those competitions where you compete and prove yourself against the best.”