He has been at Real Madrid for five seasons, played 189 times, scored 88 goals and won 11 trophies, four of those are Champions League titles. Now after Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Juventus, Gareth Bale’s star will finally shine on the turf of the Santiago Bernabeu.
Real Madrid bought Bale in the summer of 2013 hoping the Welshman would take over the mantle of Ronaldo who had by that stage been at the club for four seasons. But it felt that Madrid wanted Bale to be the next Ronaldo while the Portuguese star was still doing a pretty fine job of that himself.
However, with Bale in the side the team felt connected. The puzzle of winning the Champions League that eluded president Florentino Perez for the past 12 seasons had been found. In Bale’s first season Madrid missed out on the Spanish league title but more than made up for that by winning the Champions League and Copa del Rey. It was Bale’s stunning run and goal that won Madrid the Copa del Rey and then it was Bale’s goal in the Champions League final that put the team 2-1 ahead of Atletico Madrid. That goal gave them the desire to push on and win 4-1 in that final.
Bale, despite his injuries, is Madrid’s greatest British footballer. You can make an argument that he’s the greatest British footballer of all time, at least in the respects of being a British import based on the trophies and longevity of his career.
The biggest egos in soccer
But playing alongside the ego and brilliance of Ronaldo has never been easy for Bale. On more than a few occasions you could feel the fire around the players. If Bale saved the day with a spectacular goal that didn’t mean that Ronaldo was happy about it. In this years Champions League final Ronaldo took his time to congratulate Bale with his incredible overhead kick against Liverpool which led to another Champions League title. It was after all supposed to be the footballing Gods writing the script for Ronaldo to get such a goal.
Afterwards Ronaldo seemed unhappy and wanted out. What threw everyone is that Bale almost said the same. In hindsight it felt that both players were actually saying that the club wasn’t big enough for the two of them. Now Ronaldo has departed and probably made the most wisest move given that he is 4 years older than Bale. Now it is time for Bale to continue his good work for the club but also become the biggest fish in the pond.
The main man
New Madrid coach Julen Lopetegui has spoken to Bale at length and made it quite clear that the Welshman is part of the clubs future and pivotal to any success. Bale will join Madrid in their pre season friendly games in the United States and a few weeks later the La Liga season will kick off.
The job Bale has is the job he wants and it is the chance for him to relish in his new role. Even if Madrid, as expected, bring in a new face the new players will now be able to look to Bale and respect him as he enters his 6th season with the club without having a glance over at Ronaldo.
Real Madrid is all about the man from Wales and that should be testament to how far this wonderful, gifted player has come.