Tottenham’s Gareth Bale has lit up the English Premier League this season with some scorching performances which saw him recently named both the Professional Footballers' Association Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year. His stunning season has made him one of the hottest properties on the transfer market, but for now, all that’s on the talented 23-year-old’s mind is helping Spurs do all they can to secure Champions League football next season. Excerpts:
Q) Gareth, Tottenham have a difficult away game at Stoke City and after drawing at Chelsea in midweek, Champions League qualification is no longer in your own hands. Is there still a belief you can beat the odds and finish in the top four?
A) "Of course. Everyone at Tottenham still believes it; we know it is not in our hands, but there are a lot of funny things which can happen in football and there are two games to go.
"The main thing is we need to concentrate on ourselves and hope that little bit of luck goes with us. If we win both our games, at Stoke and then home to Sunderland, we give ourselves the best chance. I can see other teams dropping points. So it can still happen."
Q) Even if Tottenham don't make the Champions League, do you still see the club progressing and getting bigger?
A) "Definitely. Since I first came to the club six years ago, when they showed me the plans for the club and what they wanted to do, it's been going forward. There's been a progression ever since I've been there. I hope that continues and I hope we get Champions League football because that's what we all want and that's our target for the season."
Q) Whatever happens, it's been an incredible season for you - you have just picked up the Footballer of the Year Award. How did that feel?
A) "It's an amazing honour - especially when you look at the list of names that have won the awards before.
"I got the award on Thursday and I sat there looking at pictures of all the previous winners and they are legends of the game. It's a dream come true to be up there with them. It's such a massive award, an historic award."
Q) It just shows how good you have been this season!
A) "Yes, it's been a fantastic year for me individually but don't forget the team has been fantastic too. I couldn't have got the awards without them. I couldn't have done it without my team or my manager.
"The team has been fantastic this season and we have played some very good stuff, it is always easier to play in a really good team.
"And the manager has been fantastic for me, playing me in different positions where I am able to find the space and actually show my stuff. I have really enjoyed my football and been able to play well this year."
Q) You've scored some incredible goals this season - but which is your favourite?
A) "There's been a few, but probably my winning goal against West Ham. That's the one I'd pick."
Q) Who has been the biggest influence on your career would you say?
A) "I would have to say my dad. When I was a kid, I used to pester him every day to kick the ball with me - and he always did, even when he was tired. And he's been with me every step of the way since my very first game - he's pretty much dedicated his life to taking me to games and watching me play, which he still does. Everything I do in football is for my dad and my mum."
Q) You have recently become a father yourself! Has that changed your life?
A) "Well in fairness my girlfriend does most of the work to be honest! But, no, it's been life-changing of course. You get a different look on life and you get to feel how my parents felt when they had me!"
Q) Anyone else you have to thank for the way your career has gone so far?
A) "A lot of people! In fact everyone that has been involved in my career from the youth coaches at Southampton to the people when I first came to Tottenham. And my agent too who has advised me very well. I have a lot of people to thank."
Q) Your big success has come in the last year or so when you moved from left-back to left-wing and now to a more free and central role. How did that happen? Was there a particular moment when that began?
A) "Yeah - when someone told me I couldn't defend very well! Probably Harry Redknapp when he was manager! He saw the chance to push me up forward and take away some of the responsibility of defending and everything has blossomed from there."
Q) How much better can you get?
A) "Hopefully there is a lot more to come. Every footballer will tell you their target is to keep improving and I think the natural progression is to do that.
"I have only just started in my new free role in the middle behind the striker, so there is still a lot to learn in that position for me, I still need to kind of figure out a few things - which is important.
"I say to myself every season that I want to improve again, there are still things I need to improve, there are things which need working on in more areas than others, and I can do that. I hope so anyway!"
Q) There's talk of you playing abroad some day, but sum up what the Premier League means to you?
A) "It's the best league in the world I think. The foreign players that come in are surprised by how quick it is and how good it is. It excites every fan that watches it and it's football being played at the highest level - it's the best in the world. That's why everyone watches it."
Professional Management Group