Gareth Bale’s return to Tottenham Hotspur, seven years after he departed for Real Madrid, was a dream come true for many of the club’s supporters.
Bale is undoubtedly one of Spurs’ most talented ever players, with his initial six-year spell in north London ending with a career-best campaign that culminated in the Welshman clutching the PFA Player and Young Player of the Year awards at the end of 2012/13.
Although now a forward, Bale actually joined Spurs as a left-back and, remarkably, it actually took the Welshman 24 appearances before he was in a match-winning starting lineup, having joined the club as a 17-year-old from Southampton.
Once he did get amongst the wins the wins though, Bale created many iconic memories for Spurs, some of which have been cemented in club folklore. Here’s a look at his greatest moments during his (first) spell in north London…
Of course the ‘Welsh wizard’ scored on his final outing for Tottenham, with his wand of a left foot sending the ball curling from range past Simon Mignolet.
While the final result still meant Arsenal would finish in the top four, Bale signed off his Tottenham career in style.
After making a slow start to his career as a Tottenham player, an 18-year-old Bale curled in what was his first goal in the north London derby.
Arsenal won the match 3-1, but the sweetly-struck set-piece had Bale’s name on the minds of many Spurs fans leaving White Hart Lane that day.
In ten appearances against the Gunners, Bale managed an impressive five goals and one assist.
In a tight run-in during the 2009/10 season, which saw Harry Redknapp’s Spurs side face games against Arsenal and Chelsea, Bale rose to the occasion.
Within days, the Welshman scored decisive goals which saw Spurs claim respective 2-1 victories over their London rivals and put them on course to qualify for a debut campaign in the Champions League.
‘Tah-dah’ were the words used on commentary that night as Bale put on yet another magical performance at White Hart Lane.
The Welshman’s long-range free-kick put Spurs ahead against Lyon in the Europa League before a spectacular strike from Samuel Umtiti brought the visitors level.
It was another Bale free-kick which had the final say, with a last-gasp strike giving Tottenham the advantage going into the second-leg.
This strike is up there as of the greatest goals the Welshman has ever scored, for Spurs, Real Madrid or Wales.
A sumptuous volley which rifled the ball into the top corner was even applauded by Stoke supporters, sealing a 2-1 win for Tottenham on a day where Bale, because of course he did, scored both.
In a tense London derby at Upton Park, a thunderbolt from range proved to be the deciding factor that sent Spurs home with all three points.
The Welshman was literally winning games for Spurs on his own during the final months of his time at the club, and once again proved his quality with a stunning late strike to send the away end into delirium.
With confidence sky-high following another display against Inter (which we’ll get to in a moment), Bale was the star of the show again when Spurs hosted Rafa Benitez’s side in the Champions League group stages of 2010/11.
The Welshman’s pace on the left flank gave Inter right-back Maicon an evening from hell, with Bale going on to get two assists as Spurs won 3-1.
Maicon was regarded as the world’s best right-back at the time.
In October 2010, newly established as a winger, Bale produced an incredible display against defending champions Inter on away soil.
With Spurs 4-0 down at half-time, a second-half hat-trick from Bale brought Harry Redknapp’s side to within touching distance of taking something from the game.
Despite losing 4-3 on the night, travelling Tottenham fans knew they had just witnessed something special as Bale announced himself on the European stage as an elite level winger.