In-demand forward looking to make even more improvements to his game ahead of new season.
In the Premier League's end-of-season review, Wales international Bale — capped 41 times, returning 11 goals — is thankful for Villas-Boas' tutelage and the supply he received from his fellow Spurs. While it was the human highlight-reel from Cardiff who received all the end of year accolades, Bale played up to the strength of his team-mates at White Hart Lane.
'I've always had natural talent but it wasn't always to my advantage,' commented Bale, looking back to his younger years when he first realised he was adept at athletics. 'In [physical education] lessons at school, because the teacher thought I was quite good, I wasn't allowed to use my left foot and got restricted to one touch.
'I always used to sneak a left-foot shot away now and again when he wasn't looking. At the time it annoyed me a little bit, because as a kid you just want to run through a team and try and score goals. But looking back it was good for my development and I've got great memories of playing in school with my friends. But that's what football should be: fun.'
Bale certainly had fun last season. He became the first Spur since Juergen Klinsmann to score over 20 goals in a single Premier League campaign, he scored more match-winning goals (9) than any other player in the 2012-13 season, his goals alone won 25 points in the league table and, because of this on-pitch liberation, he had 73 shots on target — more than any other player.
'In football you don't win anything on your own,' conceded Bale. 'I've always said that everything I've achieved is down to my teammates. As a unit we worked so hard last season and I wasn't anything without them. I'm also very proud to be part of this Tottenham Hotspur team*.'
Lauding dynamic Portuguese head coach Villas-Boas, Bale said: 'Confidence is like the old Gary Player line, the more you practice the luckier you get. I worked hard at my game and I loved the free role I had last season.
'Andre Villas-Boas has been fantastic for me, playing me in different positions where I'm able to find the space and show my stuff. No-one wants to be stuck on the wing where you get a couple of markers put on you to take you out of the game.
'That free role is fantastic; you can go for a wander and try and find the space to affect games pretty much for the 90 minutes. But I've also been practising my new role in training all season and working incredibly hard with the manager on tactics, so what we achieved was not by accident.'
Bale's form was so terrific last season that it has attracted the attention of the world's elite clubs, particularly Real Madrid and their new manager Carlo Ancelotti, who are supposedly readying a record-breaking bid — believed to be in the region of £86m and £100m — for the player's services.
While Real president Florentino Perez is quoted by The Mirror to have lamented that £100m is a lot of money, even for Bale, The Guardian claim that Tottenham CEO Daniel Levy is currently in Florida, with Perez, in order to discuss a landmark fee.
To date, Bale has been silent on the matter and Spurs have been said to be loathe to the prospect of losing one of the greatest talents in their modern history but Bale did — when speaking to the Premier League for this report — reference his stability both in London and at Tottenham.
'The reason I'm playing so well is I'm enjoying life,' he said. 'I've started a family and I work in a great environment at Spurs, so I really enjoyed last season very much. But I've still much to learn.
'I've only started last season in that free role position so my journey there has just started. There are still aspects of every part of my game that I need to improve. I say to myself at the beginning of every season I want to improve again and 2013/14 will be no different.'
Whether those improvements will be made at Bill Nicholson Way on N17's High Road or the La Castellana region in Madrid is obviously another story…
*Writer's caveat: While these quotes were only released by the Premier League in their end-of-season review published this week, they were likely obtained a few months ago, prior to the escalating transfer speculation linking Bale with a £100m switch to Real Madrid.
image: © Jan S0L0