West Ham midfielder Joe Cole has heaped praise on Gareth Bale, claiming the Tottenham Hotspur winger will be among the greatest players ever to have played in the Premier League.

The 31-year-old turned out against the Welsh wizard in last night's 3-2 defeat at Upton Park, where the Spurs star scored a brace - including a spectacular last-minute winner - to seal all three points for Andre Villas-Boas's side.

"You can't help the goal from Bale - it's world class and he is in that kind of form at the moment," Cole reflected after the game

"He could be up there with the best players in the Premier League's history."

In his post-match press conference, Villas-Boas called for Bale to be crowned Premier League Player of the Year, enthusing about his individual quality, and claiming his performances are worthy of personal accolade.

Some football experts have even begun to talk of the product of Southampton's esteemed youth academy in the same breath as the world's leading stars Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.

And, Cole has backed Bale to hit the same heights of the Real Madrid and Barcelona prodigies, adding that the White Hart Lane whippet is one of the best he has ever played against. 

"He has still got some work to do, but he has certainly got the potential to be up there with the [Cristiano] Ronaldo's and the [Thierry] Henry's that this country has seen. 

"He is great to watch, but he's a nightmare to play against, unfortunately."

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