Defoe: Bale's transormed into a world beater
Tottenham striker Jermain Defoe believes team-mate Gareth Bale has "transformed himself" into one of the world's best players and he believes fatherhood has been central to his coming of age.
Some observers have placed Bale alongside Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo in the list of world superstars after a stunning run of form in recent weeks, with Defoe insisting such lavish praise is not misplaced.
"What he has done the last couple of months has been unbelievable," said Defoe of his Welsh colleague. "It is quite similar to Cristiano Ronaldo when he was at Man United. In his first couple of seasons there, he was a natural winger with a few tricks and then he transformed himself into a goalscoring machine. I think Gazza has done that here.
"He has changed his game and the amount goals that he has scored has been just fantastic.
"Maybe it has something to do with him being happy off the pitch after he became a father. He's buzzing at the minute. You can tell by how he's playing that he's happy. That stability is important."
Bale has yet to confirm rumours that his daughter is named Alba Violet Bale, but Defoe has confirmed the child shares the same initials as Tottenham boss Andre Villas-Boas.
"Gareth has his little AVB and he is buzzing," confirmed Defoe. "I give him stick about her initials. He is the first to give someone banter. So when you have a chance to give it back, you take it."
Defoe went on to suggest Villas-Boas has assembled the most talented squad he has been a part of at Tottenham and suggested "the sky is the limit" for Spurs in over next few years.
In comments that may not be appreciated by former manager Harry Redknapp, Defoe has suggested the atmosphere around Tottenham this season is a step ahead of anything he has experienced since he first joined the club in 2004, with the positive mood enhanced by Sunday's north London derby win against Arsenal.
"I've been here for many years now and in my opinion, in terms of team spirit, this is the best it has been," stated Defoe. "The buzz around the training ground is fantastic. Everyone is putting their work in and even the players who are injured are working really hard to get back.
"That winning mentality we have got now helps us to keep going when things are not going our way. That is a good thing to have.
"I have to say I think this is the best squad since I've been here. I was having a joke with Scott Parker yesterday and I was saying that sometimes when you have a knock and you can't train, you just have to try and stay on it.
"If you are injured, someone else will come in and do well because this is such a good team to play in now. To stay in this team, you have to play well and take your chance and everyone is buzzing at the minute.
"You could see the way we played against Arsenal on Sunday. The intensity of the way we moved the ball around was spot on. We got the goals and it was a big win.
"Arsenal are still a great team, so you can't write them off, but we feel like we have good competition for places here now and it is a great time to be at this club. For us, the sky is the limit."