Q&A with Real Madrid star Gareth Bale
Posted: 11 September 2014 Time: 13:08
Gareth Bale chats exclusively with BT Sport about life at Real Madrid, Wales’ Euro 2016 hopes and how his game has progressed.
You’ve come back now and you’re with the Welsh national team, a very exciting time as well, trying to qualify for the 2016 European Championships which they have very kindly enlarged …
Haha, yes. We’re quite a young team and we’ve been together quite a while now so the understanding is there. We fully believe this campaign is our campaign; that we can make an attempt to qualify and with there being more teams able to qualify for the Euros, it gives us more of a chance. I think it gives us more confidence to go out there and try and do our best.
Is there a bit of pressure to show what you bring to Real Madrid?
For me personally I think if I just play my football then hopefully they will be satisfied, so I didn’t feel like I had to do anything extra special to prove myself. I feel like I’ve done that in previous seasons at Tottenham, and hopefully last season as well.
A year ago when you were making that move I think there were a lot of people who maybe thought you were an amazing footballer but a nice chap, a bit quiet. Maybe you would struggle to impose yourself on a stage that big. But a year on you haven’t done too badly?
Haha, yeah, it was a good first season. To win the 10th Champions’ League for Madrid was obviously a big target for everybody at the club and for me personally to do it in my first season was obviously a dream come true. Obviously the Copa del Rey is another major trophy which is always great to win. I think, for me, I knew I was going to the biggest club in the world, and I fully believed that if I played my football then I’d contribute well enough and thankfully that happened last season.
What was the biggest moment, or the proudest moment, for you of that season?
I think winning the Champions League. The club had been chasing it for I think 12 years and it was a reason they brought me in – to try and make the team stronger to win that Champions League, and to do it in my first season was a dream come true. Not just for me but for everybody.
Is that your biggest target for this year? You want to win everything I know, but…
Umm, I think the Champions’ League is always special to any player and a club like Madrid, as I said, is known for its big European nights and winning the Champions League so I would probably say that it’s our biggest target. As you said, we want to win every trophy as well. That’s something that we’re obviously looking forward to, that we’re excited about, and it’s what we’ll be working hard all season to try and do.
Do you have a favourite fixture in football? One that you really like to play? One that you see on the calendar and say I’m really looking forward to that.
You always look at the ‘Clasicos’ and think when are they, so I think that’s a game that everybody watches, whether you’re a footballer or you’re just a fan everybody wants to be a part of that one day. To actually experience it is so surreal; the atmosphere is incredible for the whole game, there’s not a silent moment and there’s always things happening.
You feel it, even when you’re coming into the stadium, it’s just ten times bigger than any other game. The pressure, the build up to the game weeks before. It’s a special game, and you can see on the pitch the passion that it means to the players to try and win it. You can tell in the stands how much it means to the fans by their reaction to every ball that’s kicked.
Bigger than the North London Derby, would you say?
[Laughing] For me I’d think so yeah.
Roy Hodgson’s been saying that he thinks more English players should go abroad, and that it’ll add something to their game. What does it add to your game – what did it add to your game?
I just think you learn different styles of play, I think the Premier League’s very direct, very fast. I think in Spain it’s very technical, they like to keep the ball a lot more, and play more football, so I think if you’re moving abroad you get to learn a different style, and you improve in your game obviously.
So you’ve learnt more to work on your possession game?
Yeah, obviously the Premier League’s very, very good, and Spain’s very good, but it’s slightly different I think. If you’ve been playing in the Premier League and you go to Spain you can learn a new type of football, and different things about your game that maybe you wouldn’t learn if you just stayed in the Premier League. For me I think it’s enhanced my game, it’s made me a better player and made me learn more about football which is only a positive.
Who’s your tip for this year?
I feel Chelsea will win this year. They’re very strong, so I reckon they’ll win this year.
Football player that you like to watch, who’s your favourite player?
I always used to watch Ryan Giggs growing up for obvious reasons, he played on the left, same as I do, and he’s Welsh and everything like that. So for me I always used to watch him play and the way he played football was so nice to watch. The things he could do with a football were incredible.
And is there anyone like that now who makes you think “oh wow, look at that”?
I think there are a lot of top players in the world, the likes of Ronaldo, Messi, and other players. I think they all get the recognition they deserve for working hard day in day out, year in year out, and they’ll get the rewards.
Ok, so final thing. Saying how things have escalated for you, and step by step, do you stop and look back to maybe the Gareth Bale who left Cardiff all those years ago. If he were to walk in now, what do you think he would think when he sees you, Real Madrid, Wales?
Umm, He probably would be shocked I think. It’s probably something that you never think of doing when you’re that young, and you’re just trying to concentrate on making it as a professional, never mind trying to get as high as you can in the game. Every player works hard day in day out when they’re younger, travelling to away games, and giving up a lot. I think I just kind of take it day by day and just take it in my stride and try and be the best football player that I can.
To see the full interview with Gareth Bale watch ‘Gareth Bale: A Year in Madrid’ on BT Sport 1 at 7.30pm tonight.