Gareth Bale's best Tottenham moments

It's official. Gareth Bale has retired from professional football at the age of 33.

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Of course, from a Tottenham perspective, Bale's already departed twice and so this is a wound that will only be momentary. There's already been an appreciation of his career in lilywhite.

But there are simply too many amazing moments to run through. We'd be here all day deciding how to rank each of his scorchers.

Instead, we've picked out the five key moments in his storied Spurs career. Hop in the time machine and come relive some carnage.

5. Bale's 2009/10 breakout

Bale finally put it all together in 2009/10 | IAN KINGTON/GettyImages

After a couple of years trying and failing to establish himself as a first-team regular, Bale was given a real chance to stake a claim for Spurs in the 2009/10 season.

After coming on as a late sub in a 5-0 thrashing of Burnley to end his 25-game winless run to start his Tottenham career, Harry Redknapp brought Bale in as a starting left-back when Benoit Assou-Ekotto jetted off to AFCON with Cameroon.

The Welshman's displays were so impressive that Redknapp simply couldn't drop him, instead shifting him to left wing to provide a suitable mirror image to Aaron Lennon on the right.

Bale scored several important goals - including winners against Arsenal and Chelsea in the same week - to help Spurs secure Champions League football for the first time.

4. His epic return in 2020

Two Spurs legends | JULIAN FINNEY/GettyImages

Fast-forwarding to the end of his Spurs timeline, there was universal excitement among fans when Bale returned for the 2020/21 season.

Sure, at this point it was obvious Bale was not the same player, that he would only be able to play about 20 times over the campaign, but the thought of him coming home, the prospect of him linking up with Harry Kane and Son Heung-min like some sort of epic TV crossover event was a bright light in a dark year for humanity.

It was a pretty successful loan spell, too, with Bale scoring 16 times in 34 games on his return to north London. The only downside is fans weren't allowed in stadiums to enjoy it to the max.

3. Tearing Maicon apart at San Siro

Fasten your seatbelts, we're about to enter the afterburners zone.

Tottenham's maiden Champions League group stage voyage began with a draw at Werder Bremen and comfortable win at home to Twente, but their biggest test was a trip to reigning European champions Inter.

And in typical Spurs fashion, it blew up in their faces. Redknapp's men were four goals and one man down by half-time.

Then Bale kicked into gear.

Three times, he squared up Maicon - then considered the best right-back in the world - and three times he ran past him with ease, scoring nearly the exact same goal three times in the second half.

2. The six months in which he scored a screamer from 30 yards every week

Iconic | IAN KINGTON/GettyImages

Tottenham failed to pip rivals Arsenal to fourth place in 2012/13, but it wasn't for the want of trying from double PFA award winner Bale.

Andre Villas-Boas turned the touchline winger into an all-around goal threat, utilising his deadly finishing and unstoppable long-range drives in a more central role.

In fact, AVB's football was often so dire, it required Bale to shimmy onto his left and find the top corner from distance in the majority of Spurs' games to end the season.

Bale's inevitability earned him a then-world record £85m move to Real Madrid.

1. Tearing Maicon apart - the match-winning sequel

But if you close your eyes and think of peak Spurs Gareth Bale, this is the game you imagine.

Where his showing at San Siro was a 40-minute special, the full 90 in an actual win proved the first roasting of Maicon was no fluke.

With Tottenham playing with confidence having nearly completed an impossible comeback a fortnight earlier, Bale was able to run at the Brazilian at will. A 3-1 scoreline flattered Inter.

The world's media arrived at White Hart Lane one November evening and left hailing Bale as the game's next superstar, the body of a rugby player and speed of a sprinter with the technique of an elite-level footballer.

This was undeniable proof that Bale's career was going to be legendary.

Source : 90min