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Bale slams Spanish critics after Wales heroics

London (AFP) – Wales captain Gareth Bale has slammed the “malicious” Spanish media critics who labelled him a “parasite” before his World Cup play-off heroics.

Bale was accused of a lack of commitment and professionalism after missing Real Madrid’s loss to Barcelona last weekend, only to declare himself fit for Wales duty days later.

Spanish newspaper Marca accused Bale of “sucking the club’s money” since he arrived from Tottenham in 2013.

The 32-year-old responded by scoring twice in Wales’ 2-1 win over Austria in the World Cup play-off semi-finals on Thursday.

Wales, bidding for a first World Cup appearance since 1958, will face Scotland or Ukraine later this year for a place at the 2022 tournament in Qatar.

Bale has played a total of 77 minutes for Real since he appeared for Wales in November.

Any doubts over Bale’s priorities were laid bare when he celebrated Wales’ qualification for Euro 2020 in November 2019 with a flag declaring “Wales. Golf. Madrid. In that order”.

Bale has won four Champions League titles, scoring the game-winning goals in two of those finals, among 14 trophies with Real, but looks set to leave when his contract expires at the end of this season.

In the meantime, he appears set to wage war on his critics, who he believes should appreciate the damage their jibes do to professional athletes.

“I have developed a thick skin during my time in the public spotlight but that doesn’t mean articles like these don’t cause damage and upset personally and professionally to those at the receiving end of these malicious stories,” Bale wrote on Twitter.

“I have witnessed the toll the media can take on people’s mental and physical health.

“The media expect superhuman performances from professional athletes and will be the first to celebrate with them when they deliver, yet instead of commiserating with them when they show an ounce of human error, they are torn to shreds instead, encouraging anger and disappointment in their fans.

“The everyday pressures on athletes is immense, and it’s as clear as day, how negative media attention could easily send an already stressed athlete, or anybody in the public eye over the edge.”

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