Gareth Bale inked his name indelibly into Tottenham Hotspur's history as he inspired the club to a 3-1 victory over the European Cup holders Internazionale on one of the great nights at White Hart Lane.
The Wales winger followed up his hat-trick in the 4-3 defeat at San Siro two weeks previously with a sensational individual performance, in which he set up second-half goals for Peter Crouch and the substitute Roman Pavlyuchenko, to invite another series of lavish plaudits.
There were heroes all over the pitch for Tottenham, with the manager Harry Redknapp keen to give special mention to them all - he name-checked Carlo Cudicini and William Gallas among others - but it was Bale whose irresistible display inevitably drove the agenda. Until Bale got to work on him, Inter's Brazil right-back Maicon was regarded in some quarters as the best in the world. He left north London as a nervous wreck.
"You have to put it into perspective," Redknapp said. "Look at who we were playing, Inter Milan, the European champions, and look at who Gareth was up against. Many people rate Maicon as the best right-back in the world but he has given him the most torrid time you would ever wish to see. It was amazing. Luis Figo [the Inter ambassador] said to me afterwards: 'Bale has killed us, twice.' And when Figo says that, he must be a fantastic footballer.
"They're just doing some drug-testing now, the dope testers are here and I hope they are testing Gareth. The boy has got everything. It's not just his pace; he can run all day, he's got the ability to cross, his left foot is great on the run, he can shoot, dribble, head the ball - and he's also a great lad. You couldn't meet a nicer, lower-maintenance boy. He just comes in and plays his football."
As he was at San Siro, when Bale first advertised his talent to a global audience, Redknapp was forced to fend off questions about whether Tottenham would consider cashing in on their prized asset. Bale cost £5m (with another £5m in potential add-ons) when he moved from Southampton in the summer of 2007. The 21-year-old's value has multiplied many times over.
"The people who own Tottenham are not poor people," Redknapp said. "They don't need to sell him. It's a well-run club. I gave Gareth four days off last week because I thought he needed a break and I told him to go abroad. He did. He went to Cardiff to his mum's. That's him all over. He doesn't need to go anywhere else to play his football. He needs to stay here."
In the quest to find the inspiration behind Bale's stunning rise to prominence, Redknapp advanced the theory of his "getting the monkey off his back of never being on a winning team for Tottenham" in the Premier League. Bale ended the sequence last September as a late substitute against Burnley, at the 25th time of asking. Since the turn of the year, his career has rocketed.
"Everyone is scared of Gareth," said Rafael van der Vaart, who scored the opening goal. "Maicon is the best right-back in the world but Gareth killed him."
Bale was characteristically more low-key and modest. "I just feel confident on the ball at the moment," he said. "We're playing well and it allowed Aaron Lennon and me to run at defenders. I'm just enjoying my football. I think the difference is being given the chance and learning in training. I always knew I was capable of it."
Redknapp also reiterated his view that he saw Bale developing into the complete left-back in the years to come, rather than remaining on the left of midfield. On the eve of this tie, he had suggested that Bale would become the world's best in the position. "I do see him there, at left-back," he said, "although I'll probably be long gone by then."
The result saw Tottenham jump to the top of Group A and, in their debut Champions League campaign, they can now sense opportunity. Even Rafael Benítez, the dejected Inter manager, said that Tottenham had the class to progress.
"Gareth was brilliant but the whole team was brilliant," Redknapp said. "Every one of them. We outplayed them. We were much the better team from start to finish. We pressed them, outworked them. It was an outstanding performance, one of the greatest nights the fans have seen at White Hart Lane. It was a pleasure to be part of it."
Tottenham beat Young Boys of Berne 4-0 here in the play-off while they were 4-1 winners over FC Twente. Inter have now become the latest team to exit these parts battered and bruised. Their black-and-blue kit felt strangely appropriate.
"We've played too open at times but we've ripped teams apart here," Redknapp said. "Anyone would know they'll get a tough game here. But the group is still tight. Twente got a result against Werder Bremen but this keeps Inter needing a result to go through. We're in a good position but we need more points."