Gareth Bale — The Face of Wales

Gareth Bale really is the face of Welsh sport, he is a huge star. Not to insult any other Welsh sportsmen or women, but Gareth Bale is on another level when it comes to fame, exposure and sheer dominance of Welsh Sport. The Real Madrid football star is arguably the best winger in the world behind Cristiano Ronaldo, but not only that, he was the most expensive football player of all time at €100.8 million. Here is Bale’s story.

Gareth Bale started his inspiring journey at Southampton in 1999, where he made his way through the youth ranks. In 2006, he made his professional debut — he was only 16! When I was 16 I was still playing Sunday League Football, Bale was already a pro! After spending 2006–2007 at Southampton and garnering a total of 40 appearances, Tottenham Hotspur came knocking. They would pay a whopping £7 million for Gareth, a huge fee that pales in comparison to what Real Madrid would offer a few years down the line.

Bale’s original position for Southampton and Spurs was at left back, and the age old joke came true! The classic “Left back in the changing rooms!” joke was actually applicable to Gareth. After a stretch of below par performances, the manager at Spurs dropped Bale and started to pick Benoît Assou-Ekotto over him. There were even rumours that Tottenham wouldn’t profit from their £7 million investment and sell him for £3 million to Birmingham City in the Championship. (See picture of news headline below) Bet they’re glad they didn’t sell him now! The success he had at the club has been matched by only a few since he left in 2013. One performance that stands out is when he scored a hat trick in 2010 against the European Champions, Inter Milan. That night, the football world knew a star was born.

Harry Redknapp, who was one of his managers at Tottenham, made the decision to move Bale up the pitch to the wing position after recognising how fast he was on and off the ball. This was probably the best decision made in Gareth’s career. Just a quick note, Bale could run the 100 metres in 11.4 seconds when he was 14. That’s insane! It’s also a figure that he claims he could now beat, giving him a huge advantage over his opponents.

And that brings us on to the transfer to Real Madrid. A world record of €100 million. Woah! At the time, it was the largest transfer fee ever for a player, and Real Madrid have definitely benefited from the investment in him. Since he transferred, Bale has scored over 50 goals overall. That’s an amazing stat, especially for a midfielder.

Performing so well in your club career obviously deserves an international call up. Bale represents his home country Wales on the international stage as the team’s captain. Even though Wales is predominantly a Rugby Nation, a good number of kids from Wales look up to Bale and think of him as their role model. He of course scored against England in Euro 2016, something I wasn’t overly chuffed about at the time. Growing up, Bale’s hero was Ryan Giggs. Giggsy was also a winger from Wales who set the football world on fire with his football abilities and inspired many. Bale is now, what Giggs was then. Skilled, controlled and successful. Not bad at all!

Gareth was also involved in the ’11 Against Ebola Campaign’ organised by FIFA a long with teammate Cristiano Ronaldo. Following the slogan, ‘Together, we can beat Ebola,’ himself and the rest of the team raised awareness of the disease and the techniques to combat it. Awesome thing for him to do.

Overall, Gareth Bale has had a hell of a journey. From being at the bottom of the pile at Tottenham Hotspur and being ridiculed by national newspapers, to the top of the pile at Real Madrid and for the Wales national team. He has grown as a person and as a player and inspired millions in the process. Here’s to hoping he will return to the Premier League in a few years’ time!

Jack — BYP