Ex-Tottenham chief Comolli: Mel Johnson first to spot Bale

Former Tottenham football chief Damien Comolli has detailed how they managed to sign Gareth Bale from Southampton. The Frenchman refuses to take all the credit for the deal.

Former Tottenham football chief Damien Comolli has detailed how they managed to sign Gareth Bale from Southampton.

The Frenchman refuses to take all the credit for the deal.

“It was Mel Johnson, who was a scout at Tottenham, who first raised Gareth’s name,” Comolli told the Daily Express. “He was in charge of scouting players aged between 17 and 21 and had a very good knowledge of the lower leagues.

“I made my mind up after watching him in a game against QPR when he showed outstanding offensive qualities. He was used to playing at Southampton and wanted to play at Tottenham and we said that we thought he could play left-midfield as well as at left-back.

“He wasn’t so sure at first, but I remember the United game at the start of the season and a lot of credit must go to Martin Jol, who was prepared to play him.

“The stats were just amazing. Unbelievable. We sat looking at them and thinking, ‘Wow’.

“It was not just the distance he ran, but the high-intensity sprints he did in the game. If I remember rightly he had the highest number of sprints in the match.

“What does that show? Firstly, it tells you this is not a player – he was 18 at the time – who is shy on the pitch. Secondly, it also showed that he had the physical capacity to match anyone in England because United were the best team then.”

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