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Tottenham ace Bale the hero Premier League marketing men need

Gareth Bale is happy to walk to training at Tottenham.

Modest and publicity shy, he is said to be a target for ribbing by teammates - though he is known to deal with pre-match nerves by hiding their kit and flicking shinpads at them.

A dressing room source told the London Evening Standard: "He will throw things at the back of players' heads and lark about. He hates doing interviews and the lads are always taking the mickey out of him for being Welsh."

At White Hart Lane he embarrassed Brazil's captain Lucio and fellow countryman Maicon, jointly valued at more than £40 million, as Inter fell to a 3-1 defeat.

Parents Frank and Debbie, and sister Vicky, 24, were at the game. Vicky said: "He was quite good. We go to a lot of his games but that was the most exciting. We are all so proud of Gareth, but he takes it in his stride and he is very modest."

When his manager Harry Redknapp recently rewarded him with a break, Bale shunned the seven-star luxury of a Dubai resort hotel. Redknapp said: "He is a fantastic boy. I gave him four days off last week - I said go abroad for a few days and he did: he went to Cardiff. He stayed at his mum's - that's the kind of boy he is."

His girlfriend, said to be childhood love Emma Rhys Jones, enhanced her WAG credentials recently at a star-studded party for Theo Walcott, from rivals Arsenal. He lives in a modest flat around the corner from White Hart Lane, and has been seen walking in for training, his kitbag over his shoulder. When he moved in, his parents arrived with paintbrushes and rollers to decorate.

Spurs bought Bale from Southampton for £5 million, possibly rising to £10 million on appearances, in 2007. One of the fastest players in the top flight, his skills were spotted while he was playing five-a-side in a Cardiff park. Now clubs across Europe will be scrambling for his signature.

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