Gareth Bale Wins PFA Player Of The Year Double

Gareth Bale has become only the third player to win the Professional Footballers’ Association Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year awards in the same season.

The 23-year-old Tottenham forward has enjoyed possibly his best season to date, notching up 19 goals and 4 assists in 29 Premier League games.

However, his win in the Player of the Year category may surprise some, not least the many bookmakers who made Manchester United’s Robin van Persie and Liverpool’s Luis Suarez joint favorites.

Speaking at the awards ceremony itself, Bale said, “It’s a massive honour. To be voted by your peers is one of the biggest things in the game.”

Bale, who won the 2010-11 award, also fought off competition from United’s Michael Carrick and Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and Juan Mata.

All six players shortlisted for the Player of the Year award made it into the Premier League Team of the Year (below).

In the young player category, Gareth Bale was placed ahead of Hazard, West Brom forward Romelu Lukaku, Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere, Aston Villa’s Christian Benteke, and Manchester United striker Danny Welbeck.

Wales international Bale began his career at Southampton before joining Tottenham in 2007 for £10m ($15.5m).

A versatile goalscorer with a laser-sighted shot and devastating pace, he first came to the rest of the world’s attention in two games against Inter Milan in 2010. With Tottenham 4-0 down at Inter’s San Siro stadium, Bale scored a memorable hat-trick, almost leading Tottenham to a famous comeback (they lost 4-3):

If that was an ominous sign for Inter, the Italians were dismantled again two weeks later in London. While Bale didn’t score in Spurs’ 3-1 win, he set up two goals and gave right-back Maicon a harrowing 90 minutes (the Brazilian left the field to chants of “Taxi for Maicon!”) that fully displayed Bale’s power and pace:

Bigger clubs have almost constantly expressed an interest in Gareth Bale since, yet he has remained loyal to Tottenham. His two new awards are likely to attract more attention from Europe’s grandest clubs, but the player was quick to acknowledge his team-mates at Sunday’s awards:

“I couldn’t have done it without the team. They have been fantastic this year and so has the manager [Andre Villas-Boas]. I couldn’t have won it without them so I would like to give them all a big thank you as well.”

Andy Gray (1976-77) and Cristiano Ronaldo (2006-07) are the only other players to have won both PFA awards in the same season.

Premier League Team of the Year: David de Gea (Manchester United), Pablo Zabaleta (Manchester City), Jan Vertonghen (Tottenham Hotspur), Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United), Leighton Baines (Everton), Michael Carrick (Manchester United), Juan Mata (Chelsea), Gareth Bale (Tottenham Hotspur), Luis Suarez (Liverpool), Eden Hazard (Chelsea), Robin van Persie (Manchester United).