When a young Gareth’s PE teacher told him he could only play with one foot to give the other team a chance, it was obvious he was a special talent. His early career was a constant struggle. He was dogged by injuries and was almost sold by Spurs after fans believed he was cursed—they failed to win 24 games in a row with Gareth in the team. But one night changed all that. Destroying his opposite number in Spurs’ first Champions League campaign, he announced himself on the world stage in blistering style. And now he plays at the greatest club in the world, Real Madrid, alongside the world’s greatest player, Ronaldo. He was instrumental in winning Madrid their 10th European Cup—La Decima—after scoring the decisive goal in the final. His story is a lesson that applied talent can overcome any obstacle.
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Tom Oldfield is the author of biographies Arsene Wenger, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Rafael Nadal. Matt Oldfield is the editor-in-chief of football review site Of Pitch and Page.
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