Former Southampton coach hails PFA winner Gareth Bale
"He had pace to kill and you could see he was an attacking full-back," recalls former Saints manager
Lawrie McMenemy, the former Southampton manager who worked with Gareth Bale as a youngster, insists he always knew the Welshman would be special.
Bale picked up the PFA Player of the Year award in London on Sunday after a thrilling season in which he has fulfilled the promise shown as a 17-year-old at Southampton, where McMenemy was director of football.
Speaking at the event, the former Northern Ireland manager said: “I saw him early days at Southampton and, as well as being a very good player, he was a very nice lad.
“He had pace to kill and you could see he was an attacking full-back and him and Wayne Bridge together, it was perfect because if one went forward the other one sat in.
“Of course Harry has developed him, probably given him more confidence and ability and he’s made him into one of the best attacking left sided players. That’s always been a hard one to fill.
“Not only can he cross a ball but he can score goals. And also Harry’s got him working on his right foot – he’s just about got everything.”
Bale won the award, which was voted by his fellow professionals, ahead of Carlos Tevez, Samir Nasri, Rafael van der Vaart, Scott Parker, Nemanja Vidic and Charlie Adam.
In doing so, he became the first Tottenham Hotspur player to win the award since David Ginola in 1999 and the fourth since it began in 1973, after Clive Allen and Pat Jennings.