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Garde an admirer of Bale talents

Lyon coach Remi Garde says he has admired Tottenham’s Gareth Bale for many years and wishes he had been alerted to his ability sooner.

Lyon coach Remi Garde says he has admired Tottenham’s Gareth Bale for many years and wishes he had been alerted to his ability sooner.

Garde’s side travel to White Hart Lane on Thursday knowing they will have to stop the formidable Welshman if they are to get a result in the first leg of their Europa League round-of-32 clash.

The 23-year-old has plundered an impressive five goals in his previous four outings to take his tally for the season to 19 and Garde needs no reminding of the threat the former Southampton winger possess.

Former Lyon youth director, Georges Prost, informed the 46-year-old of Bale’s potential during his time on the south coast where he held the same position.

“Georges Prost worked with Gareth as a youngster at Southampton,” Garde revealed.

“He told me a few years ago about him, but he was about 16 at the time and he had already made his debut for Southampton. He was a young man but he was already expensive then, too expensive.

“Prost told me how quick he was then, how much skill he was blessed with even at that age, so it’s not a surprise to me to see the top form Gareth has been in.

“He is the sort of player that we do need to keep an eye on tomorrow.”

It will be Garde’s first return back to north London since his playing career with rivals Arsenal after he signed from Strasbourg.

Garde signed alongside Gunners legend Patrick Vieira, who won three Premier League titles at Highbury, while the Lyon boss managed just 27 appearances under Arsene Wenger.

In spite of failing to make the grade at Arsenal, Garde has fond memories of his time in England and is hoping he can get one over his former rivals.

“I can’t deny that when I wore the red shirt of Arsenal the matches against Spurs were important moments for me,” said Garde, whose team arrive in London on the back of two defeats.

“It was important to beat Spurs and I suppose in truth those feelings are still there in my head now, even though that page in my career has turned now.”

Former Lyon goalkeeper Hugo Lloris was hoping to feature against his old club, but Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas confirmed that Brad Freidel would retain his place between the posts much to Garde’s regret.

“I suppose it’s kind of a regret,” Garde added.

“He was very much loved at Lyon. He made a big impression.

“He was a great guy so it would have been nice to have the experience of coming up against him, rather than just seeing him in the corridor.”

Wed 13 February, 2013
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