REAL MADRID

The night Gareth Bale destroyed Inter Milan at the San Siro

Gareth Bale plays Atlético Madrid in the Champions League final on Saturday 28 May at the San Siro, the scene of one of his greatest nights in Europe.

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Gareth Bale was a fresh-faced Tottenham left back with little reputation outside the Premier League until 20 October 2010, a night when he left the whole of Europe with their mouths wide open at the San Siro – the scene of this Saturday’s Champions League final.

Van der Vaart: Bale "destroyed" Maicon

Bale burns Maicon

It was one of the competition's most thrilling games of the last decade, and despite Spurs ending up as 4-3 losers against Inter, everybody was talking about Bale’s marvelous hat-trick and mesmerising overall performance, in which he made minced meat of right-back Maicon. Chatting to the media after the tie, Rafael Van Der Vaart said Bale had “destroyed” the Brazilian defender, who that same year was voted as the best number two on the continent by UEFA.


He didn’t just make a fool of Maicon, however, Bale also tormented veterans Javier Zanetti and Walter Samuel throughout the match, continually penetrating the normally sound defensive wall of Rafael Benitez’s Inter. Then only 21 years old, the British press went barmy over the Welshman’s barnstorming performance, and he would soon after appear on Real Madrid’s radar.

Hat-trick almost never happened


The curious thing is that Bale’s magnificent night in Milan almost never happened. Three years after, Harry Redknapp – the man in charge at White Hart Lane at the time – confessed in an ITV4 documentary that with Spurs trailing 4-0, he considered taking Bale off. “In the end I left him on as we had nothing to lose, but what he did in those 38 minutes didn’t surprise me. I saw him do that to defences every week."