Tottenham's Bale wins top player award in England
Tottenham winger Gareth Bale has been voted the player of the year by his fellow English league professionals after establishing himself as one of Europe's top players this season.
The 21-year-old Welshman beat six other players to the Professional Footballers' Association award, with Arsenal midfielder Samir Nasri second in the voting followed by Manchester City forward Carlos Tevez.
''It is a great honor to receive, especially from other fellow professionals,'' Bale said Sunday. ''It is not just for me, it is for all my teammates that have helped me through the season and it is kind of for everyone really.''
Bale joined Tottenham in 2007 from Southampton for 5 million pounds (then $8 million) but endured a frustrating start to his Spurs career.
A series of injuries stymied his progress and he took 25 Premier League matches over more than two years to feature in a winning league side. He only became a regular after being picked at left back for an FA Cup match in January 2010.
''At the beginning I wasn't really playing much and I always believed in myself that if I did get a run in the team, which I eventually did, that I would be able to prove what I can do,'' Bale said.
Redknapp pushed Bale forward onto the left wing, allowing him to attack without having to think so much about the defensive aspect of his game.
''I kind of never really looked back from there,'' Bale said. ''Playing in a good team with good players definitely helped me a lot and all the boys have been fantastic. The manager has been fantastic, giving me my chance, and it is something I want to improve on.''
Tottenham's progress in the Champions League before being ousted by Real Madrid in the quarterfinals last week owed much to Bale.
He scored a hat trick in a 4-3 loss at Inter Milan before he tore the European champions apart when the London club won 3-1 at home in the group stage.
Bale was also nominated for the PFA young player of the year award, but finished second in the voting behind 19-year-old Arsenal midfielder Jack Wilshere, who has established himself as a key player for the club and England since August.
''It is my first full season and it is a massive award, especially from my fellow players,'' Wilshere said. ''I am very proud to be the fifth recipient from Arsenal. It is good to keep this history going.
''Arsenal is a good club for bringing youngsters through and they keep proving it so I would like to thank the manager as well.''
Javier Hernandez, Manchester United's 22-year-old Mexico striker, was third in the voting during his first season in England.