For 85 minutes Southampton matched and often bettered Tottenham, but Spurs star Bale popped up yet again in the dying minutes to rifle home a superb 25-yard drive that gave the home side a crucial 1-0 win.
"He is not on the same level as Diego Maradona or Lionel Messi yet, but Bale is one of the top 10 players in the world today," Pochettino said. "He could play for any side in the world, in any league in the world. Perhaps I made a mistake when I said Tottenham were not a one-man team."
He added: "We didn't deserve to lose but one special, amazing moment from Gareth Bale and all that hard work was undone."
Bale's winner was all the more surprising given the way that he laboured through most of the game.
Southampton often doubled up on Bale, and he struggled to gain composure as he flitted between the three different positions he assumed throughout the 90 minutes.
Bale just needed one chance to make the difference, though, and Spurs boss Andre Villas-Boas was left to shower praise on his star man, not for the first time this season.
"At the moment the player is in outstanding form and is scoring goals out of nowhere, with great ability," the Portuguese said.
"He is really enjoying his football and it was good for him to decide it once again. He had a difficult game at the beginning. He couldn't find the spaces to receive the ball.
"We weren't passing the ball properly, we were trying a lot of long balls and our game wasn't going our way. In the second half we managed to find him a little bit better, on the left and on the right when we changed it, and it was the only moment when Southampton left him, that split second."