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Gareth's pride

Gareth Bale spoke of his pride after leading the team out against Lazio - now he's looking for victory against West Ham on Sunday.

The flying winger wore the captain's armband for the first time as we scrapped it out for a hard-earned point in Matchday Five of the Europa League.

Gareth thought he'd opened the scoring in the Stadio Olimpico when he raced onto Tom Carroll's pass and finished in the fifth minute, but the goal was ruled out for offside.

He also forced Lazio goalkeeper Federico Marchetti into a fine save midway through the first half but we were on the back foot for most of the game after that and had show defensive steel - led by a fine display from Hugo Lloris - to come home with a point.

"It was great to be captain, a real honour and good that we worked hard as a team and picked up a well-earned draw," said Gareth.

"We had a couple of chances in the first half but didn't get that bit of luck we needed.

"Hugo is one of the world's best and he showed that. He had a great game.

"If you take into consideration Lazio's quality and the fact they were at home, a draw is a positive result for us and it’s still in our hands to qualify."

Indeed, the draw means we need to avoid defeat against Panathinaikos in our final group match at the Lane in Thursday, December 6, to move into the last 32 - tickets available to fans on our database as of October 31, 2012...

Gareth and the squad quickly turned their attentions to Sunday's derby against West Ham, a 4pm kick-off at the Lane.

"We have to bounce back in the Premier League," he added. "Hopefully we can get a positive result and that will put us right back in contention.

"We know it will be difficult, West Ham are on a good run at the moment but we’re a good enough team to get a result and get our season back on track."


It was announced on Thursday that Gareth is on the shortlist of 20 defenders for the prestigious FIFA FIFPro World XI, 2012.

The 50,000 professional footballers belonging to the players’ unions across the world that form FIFPro received voting forms to nominate their peers in a secret ballot for inclusion in their World XI – choosing the best goalkeeper, four defenders, three midfielders and three forwards of 2012.

The final FIFA FIFPro World XI will be announced at the FIFA Ballon d’Or gala at the Zurich Kongresshaus on January 7. During the televised gala, the winner of the FIFA Ballon d’Or for the best player of 2012 and the winner of the FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year 2012 award will also be revealed. Meanwhile, the FIFA World Coach of the Year for Men’s Football award and the FIFA World Coach of the Year for Women’s Football award will be presented for the third time. The FIFA Puskás Award for the best goal of the year, the FIFA Presidential Award and the FIFA Fair Play Award will also be presented during the gala.