Gareth Bale has done it again. While the unrelenting criticism and abuse from Spain’s newspapers attempts to push him away from Madrid, he has turned his attention to something that has always mattered more: his country, Wales, and their hopes of reaching a first World Cup since 1958.
And for this I believe Gareth Bale should be commended. Despite his astounding achievements at the Santiago Bernabeu he has never been properly accepted by the club, the fans and the Spanish media.
It’s not the first time Bale has used unfair comments from Spain as motivation. He won the Champions League final almost single-handedly for Real Madrid in 2018 with a match-winning performance against Liverpool in the final. Still, he was not wanted, and that was made clear by the club’s entitled supporters.
By now it seems like Bale has rightly given up on trying to win them over. Instead, he is saving his best for Wales, as was proved on a magical night in Cardiff.
With the first of his two goals, a stunning free kick, Bale celebrated by grabbing the Wales badge on his shirt, thrusting it in front of the camera and shouting “SUCK THAT!”
It seemed like an obvious response to newspaper Marca’s disgraceful attack just a day earlier, labelling Bale a ‘parasite’. “He settled in Spain, at Real Madrid, where, masked, he first showed diligence and love for the guest, but then his nature led him to suck blood without giving anything in return,” reads an extract from the article. “Well, more than blood, he sucked, and sucks, the club's euros.”
Like the Spanish Armada repelled from the coast of Great Britain in the 16th century, Bale has dismissed his critics with a couple of swings of his left foot.
He has clearly had enough and would probably do well to return to the UK, where he is appreciated and where fans don’t scoff at players capable of winning matches with moments of pure individual brilliance.
Real Madrid Outsider
The Welshman could have been a Real Madrid great had he not been disliked from the moment he arrived. He was an outsider, a usurper to the great Cristiano Ronaldo.
That resentment has lingered, even when he has performed brilliantly in a white shirt. Bale can hardly be blamed for lacking motivation after years of disinterest when he does well and disdain when his performance levels drop.
This is a player who has contributed with 173 goals and assists in 256 appearances for Real Madrid. He has won four Champions League titles, scoring in two finals, as well as two La Ligas, one Copa del Rey and four Club World Cups.
Good Riddance To Real
At this point it seems like the relationship between Bale and Real Madrid is beyond the point of repair, so it would be brilliant to see the 32-year-old back in the Premier League and thriving again. He showed glimpses of what he can do when happy and appreciated while on loan at Tottenham last season.
Throughout this saga at Real Madrid the focus has never turned inward and the club don’t seem to have made an effort to address Bale’s frustrations. No one, especially in the Spanish media, thought to ask why the player was so disillusioned, why he might seem disinterested.
For a while, he ignored the unacceptable comments and performed consistently, but even the world’s best athletes need to feel wanted.
It’s no surprise, then, that for Bale it is Wales, golf, Madrid, in that order!
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