Bale was still a schoolboy when Crouch first heard his name being spoken in hushed tones.
Bale, along with Theo Walcott, was the star of Southampton’s youth academy while Crouch was a first-teamer at St Mary’s.
Crouch said: “Gareth was in the youth set-up when I was at Southampton, and I used to hear people talking about him and Walcott all the time.
“When I first signed for Spurs, Gareth was in and out of the side – but in training he was brilliant.
“It was just a case of when he started doing it more consistently and now he is doing it week in, week out against some of the best players in the world.
“He was great last year, but now in the Champions League it’s more high profile.
“As a striker, it’s a dream to have him on the left and Aaron Lennon on the right.
“You just have to get yourself in the box and you know nine times out of ten, they will get the right cross in for you.”