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Nov 10, 2011

Riise: Bale is world's best left winger

Norway full-back John Arne Riise believes that Gareth Bale currently stands alone as the best left-sided player in world football.

Bale, 22, was crowned PFA Player of the Year in April after starring for Tottenham in the Premier League and Champions League last season, and the winger has continued to be an integral player for both club and country this season - helping Wales to climb from 117th to 45th in the FIFA world rankings.

Riise's club Fulham came up against Bale last weekend, with the Welshman scoring in a 3-1 victory at Craven Cottage, and he will face him again at international level on Saturday when Norway take on Wales in a friendly.

The former Liverpool and Roma left-back will become only the third Norwegian to win 100 caps when he lines up in Cardiff, but he is well aware that Bale could make his landmark day an unhappy one.

"There is no doubt about his ability, not only what he did against Inter [scoring a hat-trick against them in last season's Champions League] but the whole of last season he kept going," Riise said.

"He was scoring goals and providing assists, he works really hard and he is not a big celebrity star, he just gets on with his job and you have to respect that.

"The things he produces are unbelievable. I played against him on Sunday, and when you play against him you have to make him run the other way by attacking yourself, otherwise it will be a one-man game.

"There is no left-sided player better than him at the moment. He has a great left foot, he is strong and quick and can cross. You can think you are going to be close to him and then he just runs past you and scores a goal."

Riise will also come up against former Liverpool team-mate Craig Bellamy, who allegedly confronted him angrily with a golf club during a team bonding trip in 2007. But the Norway veteran insists that incident is water under the bridge now.

"What happened in Portugal a few years ago happened," he said. "That is not the Bellamy I know and we shook hands quite quickly after that and settled it. So it is no problem for me. I've always been all right with Craig Bellamy."

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