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Apr 1, 2011

Bale: I'm nowhere near Ronaldo yet

Tottenham's Gareth Bale is adamant he is not yet one of football's superstars - unlike forthcoming Champions League quarter-final opponent Cristiano Ronaldo.

While Bale has grabbed headlines this season with his all-action goalscoring displays in both the Premier League and in Europe, the left-sided Welshman insists that he is far from the finished article and can still improve in every area of his game - something he will have to do before he can be put in the same class as the Portuguese forward.

"I'm still young, still learning - but if you look at the likes of Messi and Ronaldo, then those are the levels that you have to aspire to," Bale said. "It's very nice if people have said nice things about me, but to be honest I try to ignore it.

"If you tell me I'm a superstar, I certainly don't think of myself in that way, to be honest.

"I'm more concerned about what is still to come, and I believe there is a lot more. I know I have a lot to learn, so it is a case of working hard in training and in games.

What have I still got to improve? What haven't I? There's a lot, far too much to explain."

Bale is currently in a race to be fit for Tuesday's first leg clash with Ronaldo and Real Madrid - with manager Harry Redknapp saying he "has a chance" of being fit - after struggling with a series of niggling injury problems in recent months. However, the 21-year-old has no long-term concerns about his fitness and believes he is maturing as a person and, as a consequence, a player.

"I suppose I am tougher both physically and mentally, but it is just a part of growing up, really," he said. "I was 17 when I joined Tottenham, and moving to London at that age is difficult. You just grow up and mature naturally so it was always just a matter of time and I hope that is showing on the pitch now."

Bale forced himself into the European limelight after scoring a hat-trick against Champions League holders Inter in Italy during the group stage of the competition, before exposing Maicon's flaws in a return victory at White Hart Lane. He admits the two games are the highlight of his season so far - but is hopeful he can produce something equally memorable against Jose Mourinho's side.

"I suppose the hat-trick against Inter and then beating them at home have been the top moments of the season for me so far. But hopefully there is better still to come," he said.

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