To shred the defence of Europe's No1 team once, on their own ground, in Milan, would be enough for most people's scrapbooks but Gareth Bale did it again in the grandest victory of Harry Redknapp's colourful managerial career.
The runaway train of Bale's talent is being hailed all over Europe, with Internazionale's Luis Figo, no fool along the flanks, telling Redknapp as the two left the field together: "He's just amazing, amazing. He killed us twice."
What is it with Wales and wingers? Ryan Giggs, who has taunted England with his Welshness for almost 20 years, was not the first fire-breather to earn worldwide recognition. Cliff Jones, the house flier in Tottenham's 1961 Double-winning side, sped along the turf Bale graced in this thrilling Champions League encounter and was widely recognised as the sport's best wide man.
"What confidence you must have to come and do that to people who are so highly rated," Redknapp said. Incredulity strikes rarely for these old football men. They remember an age when a sense of adventure was inked into the contract. But Tottenham's manager was awed as the crowd chanted "taxi for Maicon" after the world's top-rated right-back was blown away again.
By the end Brazil's first choice on the right side of defence was missing in action. He wanted no part of the mission to stop Bale tearing down Tottenham's left-hand side and curling precise crosses on to the toes of his strikers.
Figo, a former Fifa world footballer of the year who now works as an ambassador for Inter, worked both flanks and was more intuitive and agile than the young product of Southampton's academy he praised so highly. Bale is more direct, less varied and easier to stop. Redknapp picked out the expert smothering job performed recently by Everton's Phil Neville. But Figo's eulogy will drift through the boardrooms of Europe's biggest clubs.
On this evidence and that of his blistering hat-trick in Milan Bale can expect to stir the interest of Real Madrid and Barcelona as well as the biggest Premier League clubs. To call this a performance worthy of Roberto Carlos in his prime would not be hyperbolic. That effervescent Brazilian raider was a full-back – the role Redknapp expects Bale to reclaim. His logic (and this will make Maicon even queasier) is that a deeper starting position will allow him a longer run-up with which to torture opponents.
Character is destiny, they say and Redknapp is bound to express his romantic nature. On the eve of the game he delivered an entertaining sermon on how some football men are born to thrill. In promising a "wild ride" Redknapp came over as a creature of glorious instinct.
In this age of industrialised defence the neutral rejoiced to hear him fret about the un-droppability of his most gifted players. To Redknapp, leaving a game-changer to fester on the bench is a crime against ambition.
His challenge here was to throw all his finest assets at the holders of the Champions League trophy without inviting an avalanche at Carlo Cudicini's end. Result: a barn-burner, with Bale and Luka Modric as its decisive influences.
Redknapp is such a headline-machine these days that some will have suspected his rumination on team selection was for dramatic effect. It repays a second listen. "There is a feeling that attack is the best form of defence for us. We are an open team and I don't have any option other than to pick an attacking midfield," he said. "I have nothing but attacking players.
"I could leave [Rafael]Van der Vaart out and play with three central midfielders and be strong in there but I would not do that. This is the way I have developed the squad. We have a go. What do you do with a Modric? How do I leave him out to go and put someone bigger and stronger in there? Or how do I leave Van der Vaart out? It might make it a wild ride for everybody but we are at home."
This Group A tie had stirred all the best memories of big European nights in this part of north London and Inter's 4-3 victory in Milan was the perfect backdrop for a rematch. Twice in five minutes Bale blew past Maicon as if he were a traffic cone. For Tottenham's second goal he dashed away from Obiora Nwankwo and crossed for Peter Crouch to score. For their third, in the 89th minute, he knocked the ball 20 yards past Lúcio and ran round him to meet his own pass before sending it over for Roman Pavlyuchenko to seal the game.
Bale is playing himself into the firmament. Speed, skill and audacity aside, the most flattering reflection on him is that he has produced his two best career performances against the No1 side in Europe.
There will be days when Redknapp's vision works against him, when the rear of his team is exposed, as it was by Samuel Eto'o, who scored Inter's only goal. But Redknapp's way is surely the right one, the life-enriching way.
Bale is its purest expression.
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