Bale bags awards treble with writers' honour
Tottenham Hotspur winger Gareth Bale completed a notable treble after being voted the 2013 Footballer of the Year by England's Football Writers' Association.
The 23-year-old Wales international topped the journalists' poll by a narrow margin with Manchester United's Robin van Persie, last season's winner when at Arsenal, the runner-up.
Last week, Bale was named as both Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year by England's Professional Footballers' Association.
His 24 goals in all competitions so far this season helped take north London club Spurs into the quarter-finals of the Europa League and have kept them on course for a return to the Champions League via a top-four finish in the Premier League.
Bale will receive the FWA accolade, which has been running since 1948, at a gala dinner at the Lancaster London Hotel on May 9. The first Tottenham player to receive the FWA award since David Ginola in 1999 and the first Wales international so honoured since Neville Southall in 1985, Bale said: "It is a huge honour to receive the Footballer of the Year award from the Football Writers' Association. "It means a lot to win this award when you consider the number of players that have been outstanding for their clubs in the Barclays Premier League this season.
"I have been very fortunate to be playing in such a fantastic team and I owe a lot to my team-mates and, obviously, the manager who has shown such faith in me.
"This award has been won in the past by some of the greatest names in football and I consider it a privilege that the FWA has selected me to be named alongside them."
FWA chairman Andy Dunn, chief sports writer for the Sunday Mirror, said of Bale: "He is a player who is rising inexorably towards the rarefied levels of world stars such as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
"Twice the PFA Player of the Year and now, two months before his 24th birthday, the FWA Footballer of the Year. Let's all hope he lights up the Premier League for many more seasons."
Bale's latest award also completed a memorable couple of days for Cardiff's Whitchurch High School, who saw his old schoolmate Sam Warburton named captain of the British and Irish Lions rugby union team for their upcoming tour of Hong Kong and Australia.