With Gareth Bale subbing on for Tottenham against West Ham in the 72nd minute on Sunday, we've published this recollection of the last time he made his first appearance for the club.
Gareth Bale had been a Tottenham Hotspur player for just over three months when he was named in the first team, on the left wing, against Manchester United for his debut on Aug. 26, 2007. Having been linked with a move to United and Arsenal, he had joined Spurs from Southampton for a bargain fee of £5 million (plus £5m of add-ons), although the 18-year-old Welshman still hadn't settled on a position and was flitting between defence and midfield.
Clearly, Bale had potential, but his Spurs career started disastrously. United ran out 1-0 winners thanks to Nani's first goal for the club; he later picked up a season-ending injury in December and did not enjoy a win in his first 24 Premier League games for Spurs, until the drought was broken two years later against Burnley in September 2009.
Bale's career took off after that and although he did not manage to help Spurs to a trophy, he won the PFA Footballer of the Year awards in 2011 and 2013, with his final season at White Hart Lane yielding 21 goals in 34 Premier League games. Soon he was on a plane to Real Madrid, having signed for a then-world record fee of £85.3m, where he went on to win two La Liga titles and four Champions Leagues.
Now back at Tottenham on loan after his time in Madrid turned sour, we look back at Bale's first go-round with the team 13 years ago and see where that matchday squad are now.
GK: Paul Robinson. The goalkeeper won 41 caps for England and remained Spurs' No. 1 until 2008, when he was replaced by Heurelho Gomes. He moved to Blackburn for £3.5m in July 2008 and then spent time with Burnley from 2015 to 2017 before retiring in July 2017. He's now a TV pundit, is studying for his coaching badges and plays cricket for local side Knaresborough with fellow former goalkeeper Nigel Martyn.
DF: Pascal Chimbonda. The right-back moved to Sunderland in 2008, had three appearances back at Spurs and then embarked on a nomadic career that took in Blackburn, QPR, Doncaster Rovers, Market Drayton Town (where he played for free), Carlisle United, AC Arles-Avignon, Washington and Ashton Town. He now runs the PC39 Academy in Manchester.
DF: Ricardo Rocha. Rocha's time at Spurs was underwhelming, and he made just 18 appearances before leaving for Standard Liege in 2009 on a free transfer. The Portugal defender had his final three years at Portsmouth from 2010-2013, where he tried to land a role as director of football. He's now doing some TV punditry work in Portugal.
DF: Anthony Gardner. The one-cap England centre-back made 143 appearances for Spurs before moving to Everton and Hull City on loan. He joined Hull permanently in 2008 for £2.9m, and spent time at Crystal Palace and then Sheffield Wednesday before retiring in 2014. He's now playing poker for fun under the username MaceWindu1 and is part of the Two Touch football agency.
DF: Lee Young-pyo. The South Korean left-back joined Borussia Dortmund in 2008 for £450k, after making 92 appearances from 2005-2008 at Spurs. He went on to play for Al-Hilal and Vancouver Whitecaps before retiring in 2013. He's now an avid lover of cycling, running and badminton, while he also makes a few appearances in charity matches.
MF: Steed Malbranque. The French midfielder joined Spurs in 2006 from Fulham for £2.7m and had two seasons at White Hart Lane before moving to Sunderland for £4.5m in 2008. He then spent time with Saint-Etienne, Lyon, SM Caen and MDA Chasselay and having left there in 2019, it looked like he was going to head into retirement. But, remarkably, in September -- at the age of 40 -- he signed for French Championnat National 3 side FC Limonest.
MF: Jermaine Jenas. The England midfielder made 201 appearances for Spurs, and after loan spells at Aston Villa and Nottingham Forest, he left for QPR in July 2014 on a free transfer. In January 2016 he was forced into retirement at the age of 31 after an ACL injury and is now a successful TV pundit and co-commentator.
MF: Tom Huddlestone. Huddlestone, who won four caps for England, enjoyed seven seasons at Spurs before moving to Hull City in August 2013 for £5.2m. After 161 appearances there, he then moved to Derby in 2017 and was released in July after 183 games for the Rams. At 33, he's on the lookout for a new club.
MF: Gareth Bale. The outrageously talented Welsh winger left Spurs for Real Madrid in September 2013 and won four Champions Leagues -- scoring an incredible overhead kick in the 2018 final against Liverpool -- and two La Liga titles, but found himself out of favour under Zinedine Zidane. He nearly moved to Chinese side Jiangsu Suning in July 2019 but the deal fell through, so he had a further season at Real Madrid before moving back to Spurs on loan in September 2020.
FW: Robbie Keane. The prolific Republic of Ireland centre-forward called time on his career in November 2018, leaving an outstanding legacy in the game and 364 goals across his 21 years in club and international football. He left Spurs in 2008 for Liverpool in a deal worth £21m, but then re-joined Tottenham just six months later for £15m. He then spent time on loan at Celtic and West Ham before joining MLS side LA Galaxy in 2011. He returned to Villa on loan and had a brief spell with Indian team ATK in 2017 before hanging up his boots a year later. He's now embarking on a coaching career and has been an assistant for Ireland under Mick McCarthy, and again at Middlesbrough under Jonathan Woodgate.
FW: Dimitar Berbatov. The Bulgarian made 102 appearances for Spurs and scored 46 goals before joining Manchester United for £30.75m in September 2008. Four and a half years on, he moved to Fulham, and then had spells at Monaco, PAOK Salonika and Kerala Blasters before retiring in April 2018. The mercurial striker is now working as a football pundit and plans to take his coaching badges.
GK: Radek Cerny. The Czech goalkeeper spent three seasons at Spurs before joining QPR in 2008 on a free transfer. He made 78 appearances there and then re-joined boyhood side Slavia Prague in 2013 on a free before retiring in July 2014. He is still at the club as a goalkeeping coach.
DF: Paul Stalteri. The Canada right-back joined Spurs on a free from Werder Bremen in July 2005 and made 56 appearances. Spells at Fulham and Borussia Monchengladbach followed until he retired in March 2013. He is now assistant manager at Canadian Premier League side York9 FC.
MF: Didier Zokora. The Ivory Coast midfielder played for Spurs until 2009 before spending time at Sevilla, Trabzonspor, Akhisar Belediyespor, Pune City, North East United and Semen Padang. He's now doing a sports management degree at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny University in Cocody and is sports adviser to the Ivory Coast's National Technical Department.
MF: Adel Taarabt. The talented midfielder failed to make an impact at Spurs and spent much of his three years out on loan at QPR. He joined them on a permanent deal in 2010 and spent further time on loan at Fulham and Milan before moving to Benfica in 2015. He spent time at Genoa, again on loan, for the 2017-18 campaign and is still at the Portuguese giants where started their league opener this season against Famalicao.
FW: Jermain Defoe. The 37-year-old is still ruthless in front of goal, causing defenders in the Scottish Premiership problems with Rangers. He left Spurs in 2008 for Portsmouth, but was brought back the following January for £15m. He had another five years at Spurs until leaving for Toronto FC in 2014. Spells at Sunderland and Bournemouth followed and he's now at Rangers having joined Steven Gerrard's side permanently (after a loan move) in July 2020. He also left a long-standing legacy on the international scene with an impressive 20 goals in 57 games for England.
MANAGER: Martin Jol. Jol was sacked by Spurs at half-time in their UEFA Cup match against Getafe in October 2007 and was replaced by Juande Ramos. Jol went on to manage Hamburg, Ajax, Fulham and Al-Ahly. He's now technical director at Dutch Eredivisie side Ado Den Haag.