Gareth Bale, underrated, has earned the right to do whatever he wants

I

n August, Gareth Bale gave an interview to the Observer that was almost comical in its noncommittal blandness.

Even by the standards of professional footballers, Bale managed to give away very little in 16 quick questions.

He answered ‘nothing’ when asked about what made him unhappy and what he would change about his past, and revealed he ‘wouldn’t want anyone else’ to play him in a biopic .

When asked what he wanted to be growing up, Bale, who appeared to be promoting the Rowbots gym, said: “I just wanted to fulfill my potential.”

There was almost nothing to glean about Bale the man, his motives or his desires, but an answer, perhaps, contained a poignant degree. Asked about his biggest fear, Bale replied: “Not being the best version of myself. In football and in life.

Bale is one of the best British players of his generation, perhaps of all time, but there’s always a case where he hasn’t been the ‘best version’ of himself on the pitch in recent years .

He has only played two hours of football for Real Madrid in the last six months and started more than 15 league games in one season in 2018-19.

Whatever the true circumstances of Bale’s veritable purgatory, it’s clearly not the stats of a player determined to squeeze every last drop out of his talent.

Bale almost single-handedly trailing Wales in their World Cup play-off against Austria last week proved he’s still one of the sport’s best clutch players and greatest magicians, but it’s intriguing to compare him to his former Real team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo. Both are sublimely gifted players, but Ronaldo has maintained an unquenchable thirst for goals, records and limelight that Bale no longer shares, at least at club level.

Instead, the 32-year-old’s focus has been narrowed to the singular goal of reaching the World Cup with Wales, to the point where he plans to retire immediately after the tournament and could hang up his cleats in June if he does not qualify.

For anyone who has appreciated Bale’s brilliance over the years, there is some frustration knowing that he is still good enough to lift this Real team to another level, as he did for his country. He could have been the club’s post-Ronaldo inspiration.

Getty Images

This is apparently part of the reason for the bile spewed out at Bale by the Spanish media. He saw Real for what they really are – dodgy employers and big business – and by refusing to play their game he has not only humiliated them, he has fundamentally weakened them.

And, given Bale’s well-documented treatment in Spain, why wouldn’t he?

Bale, don’t forget, worked as hard as Ronaldo to rise to the top, transforming from a scrawny left-back, who was nearly released by Southampton and then nearly sold by Tottenham to Birmingham, into one of the most explosives of the world. , at one point behind only the Portuguese and Lionel Messi.

If his fire doesn’t burn so bright anymore, that’s understandable and okay. To despise Bale for wanting to enjoy the fruits of his labor or to scold him for not laser-focusing on self-improvement would be to impose radically different standards on footballers than everyone else.

Tottenham Hotspur FC via Getty Images

For players, football is a job, the game is a professional environment and, for the majority, their clubs are employers rather than passion projects.

How many of us would continue to give our all in the twilight of our careers in a profession where we had already reached the top, accomplished almost everything possible, if we then found ourselves in the grips of an employer who didn’t really want us and a succession of bosses who sided with our detractors?

At a time when we’re increasingly being told to have fun and maintain a good work-life balance, Bale appears to be doing just that as he winds down his deal with Real, while continuing to hit highs. extraordinary for Wales.

Having realized what he has for Real, Bale has earned the right to disengage from the psychodrama of the club: playing golf, spending time with his family, prioritizing his country, giving bland interviews and promoting rowers . It might not be the best version of Bale ‘in football’, but it might be ‘in life’ which is ultimately more important.


standard Sport

Not all news on the site expresses the point of view of the site, but we transmit this news automatically and translate it through programmatic technology on the site and not from a human editor.
Back to top button