Gareth Bale: "I can become a great, just like Ryan Giggs!"
Gareth Bale believes he has the perfect role model in Ryan Giggs as the Tottenham winger comes to terms with his new superstar status.
The last fortnight has seen Bale become one of the most talked about players on the planet following his virtuoso performances against European champions Inter Milan.
His stunning San Siro hat-trick two weeks ago and Tuesday night's mesmeric pair of assists saw him make headlines across Europe, while he surely can never have experienced the kind of media scrum that greeted him at an event in central London yesterday afternoon.
But the unassuming 21-year-old from Cardiff appeared to take it all in his stride in exactly the same manner as he did in repeatedly galloping past the hapless Inter defence.
Bale's meteoric rise echoes of that of fellow Welsh wizard Giggs 20 years ago, and the youngster was keen to pay tribute to the example his idol has set.
'He's shown, ever since he made his debut, what a good player and what a good person he is for football,' Bale said.
'He's an amazing person to follow and hopefully I can come a little bit near him.'
With comparisons already being made with Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, that may not be such a tall order.
Bale said of the lavish praise that has come his way: "It's obviously nice to get people talking about you, saying nice things.
'But I know I have to keep working hard and keep improving and that's all I want to do.'
Bale is playing as well as anybody in the world at the moment, according to Tottenham legend Ricky Villa.
Spurs' 1981 FA Cup-winning hero Villa reckons Bale's performances against Inter Milan in the Champions League in the past fortnight bear comparison with those of the best footballers on the planet.
'You have to compare with other players,' Villa said. 'Yes, I compare with Messi, Ronaldo - he's playing that level at the moment. If he carries on like that, I'm very pleased for the club, for the supporters.'
Bale's jaw-dropping displays have seen him linked with a mega-money move away from White Hart Lane.
'I'm expecting that the club will keep that kind of player and not sell anyone,' said Villa.
However, the 58-year-old was more coy when asked whether Bale would have got in Tottenham's 1981 side.
'It's impossible to compare; I don't like to compare one team to the other,' he said.
'In the old days, with Ossie (Ardiles), with Glenn (Hoddle), with Stevie (Perryman), with Garth (Crooks), with (Steve) Archibald, it was a great side.
'Today, it's another good side and that is great for the club, for the supporters.'