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Bale's glittering clean sweep

TOTTENHAM's Gareth Bale was last night celebrating on the double after claiming both major awards at the PFA honours night in London.

The Welshman has been the inspiration behind Tottenham's charge for a Champions League spot and timed his run to perfection to take advantage of Robin van Persie's dip in form to claim a prize he also won in 2011. He follows Andy Gray and Cristiano Ronaldo as the only players to have won both the main prize and the Young Player award in the same season.

Liverpool's Luis Suarez was also in the running, but he did not attend the event after the controversy surrounding him in recent weeks. The Uruguayan striker received a 10-match ban for biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic, but the incident took place after voting had closed and, had he won, his appearance would have brought plenty of negative attention to the award.

Doubts already existed about the Uruguayan's worthiness as a recipient given he was found guilty of racially abusing Patrice Evra at Anfield in October 2011.

The voting structure is also likely to have counted against Van Persie, who has scored six times in his last four appearances, including a championship-sealing hat-trick against Aston Villa last Monday and yesterday's penalty against Arsenal.

However, as voting took place in the middle of his 10-match barren streak, during which time Bale scored eight times and terrorised defences at home and abroad, it is likely to have strengthened the Welshman's support at Van Persie's expense.

Chelsea duo Juan Mata and Eden Hazard where in the running Michael Carrick, tipped by Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger among others, still struggles to convince some of his outstanding talents.

Bale is first two-time winner since Ronaldo in 2007. His win also means Wales have claimed the award for the third time in five years after Ryan Giggs won it in 2009 and Bale himself in 2011.

Irish Independent