Unless your name is Zinedine Zidane, it’s pretty hard to deny Gareth Bale’s ability.
But long before the Welshman took up his new life in Spain as a professional golfer, he blessed us on these shores with countless world-class displays.
Bale swapped north London for Madrid in 2013 after £80million was enough to persuade Spurs to part ways with their superstar talent.
Part of his legacy left behind at Spurs are two PFA Player of the Year awards – the first coming in 2010/11 and the second in 2012/13.
It’s the first of those individual honours bestowed upon the Welshman that, when you take a look back at his stats in the Premier League that season, makes for suspicious reading.
Cast your mind back to 2011, a simpler time, a time when we all feared the world would soon end and when ‘Gangnam Style’ wasn’t stuck in your head.
Bale was 21 and so far had failed to impress consistently at White Hart Lane since his move from Southampton.
The Welshman’s form and poor injury record meant that he was often overlooked at left-back in place of Benoit Assou-Ekotto. Ouch.
His performances improved towards the end of the 2009-10 campaign, with Spurs fans excited at what was to come from Bale under the stewardship of Harry Redknapp the following season.
In Spurs’ second game of the season, a 2-1 victory over Stoke, Bale scored both.
The standout goal being a volley where his left foot was level with his chin – a strike that would later be crowned August’s Goal of the Month.
Bale continued his impressive early season form, cementing his place in the starting eleven and moving forward to left wing to accommodate Assou-Ekotto.
The Welshman set up all four goals as he helped Spurs overcome Young Boys in the Champions League play-off to reach the group stages. Make a note of this being a European game and not in the Premier League.
In October 2010, Bale really announced himself to the footballing world, the Spurs man scored ‘that’ hat-trick against Champions League holders Inter Milan in a 4-3 defeat.
Everyone remembers the game, including Maicon, who occasionally still has nightmares thinking about it.
Again, another impressive performance in Europe for Bale… EUROPE.
He added his third and fourth goals of the season in a 4-2 win over Blackburn in November, Bale also crossing for Roman Pavlyuchenko to score, in what would turn out to be one of only two assists of the Premier League campaign.
The Welshman then added his fifth goal of the season just a week later in a 3-2 win against North London rivals Arsenal.
Bale registered his sixth goal of the season in December as Spurs beat Newcastle 2-0 and was subsequently rewarded with a new contract at White Hart Lane until 2015.
Spoiler alert, he didn’t see that contract out…
In the New Year’s Day fixture against Fulham, Bale score his seventh and final goal of the season. Yep, his final goal of the season was at the start of January… I know.
The Welshman played out the rest of the campaign without contributing a single goal or assist, as Tottenham finished fifth and missed out on Champions League qualification.
Then, as April struck, the unthinkable happened as Bale received the top individual award in England, being named PFA Player of the Year.
So, how exactly did this happen?
How can you finish the season with seven goals and two assists in 30 appearances, not pick up a single Player of the Month award, yet still be considered the best in the league?
Man United pair Dimitar Berbatov and Carlos Tevez both ended the season with 20 goals each, while Robin Van Persie bagged 18 and even DJ Campbell chipped in with 13 goals – my second favourite DJ after Tim Westwood.
Or, what about a shout for a goalkeeper? Joe Hart, anyone?
Back when he was actually pretty good, Pep Guardiola’s best mate picked up the Golden Glove award after 18 clean-sheets for Man City that season.
Man United defensive lynchpin Nemanja Vidic had a typically solid season, yet he was also neglected of the top honour, with Bale’s own team-mate, Rafael van Der Vaart, ending the season as Spurs’ top scorer with 13 goals, as well as registering eight assists.
The Dutchman, who was also on the shortlist for the award, produced better stats than his team-mate, so why was Bale named Player of the Year?
Bale also fought off competition from Samir Nasri, Scott Parker, Carlos Tevez, and Charlie Adam (crazy, I know), to win the award.
Bale was beaten to the Young Player of the Year award by Jack Wilshere and was also snubbed of the Football Writers’ Footballer of the Year award in favour of the aforementioned Parker.
It’s no great secret that footballers aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed.
It’s more than possible that a few of them got their wires crossed, mistaking Bale’s impressive Champions League performances with his hot and cold showings against them in the Premier League.
Considering he hadn’t scored since January, it’s not like he was in form at the time of voting at the end of March.
You can’t even throw in the Jordan Henderson argument and claim that he was part of a team that produced something spectacular in league.
The following season, Bale’s performances improved once again, he scored nine times and picked up eight assists in 36 Premier League appearances.
However this time he missed out on the Player of the Year award because of the antics of Van Persie down the road at Arsenal.
After the 2012/13 season, Bale was rightfully named Player of the Year, after the incoming Madrid star racked up a remarkable 21 goals and four assists in 33 games.
Nobody can debate his second award in 2012/13, but it’s that first fraudulent one that leaves a particularly sour taste in the mouth.
I vote that the first Player of the Year award is taken off Bale and I’m prepared to argue with strangers online about it.
Justice for DJ Campbell, please.