In an exclusive interview with Football FanCast, John Hartson has leapt to the defence of Gareth Bale.
There’s been a lot of talk about Gareth Bale and his colourful Real Madrid career in recent months. Of course, he joined Los Blancos as their most expensive purchase of all-time for what then represented a world-record transfer fee.
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A lot was expected from the Wales international and while Bale certainly has delivered on big Champions League nights and helped Real Madrid achieve glory, that hasn’t been enough to warrant him a special place at the club. At least not if you asked Zinedine Zidane just a couple of weeks back.
It was a tough summer for Bale and it was expected that he would indeed spend more time playing golf than football if he ended up staying at the Santiago Bernabeu. After all, Zidane said it himself: it would be for the best if Bale were sold.
But Hartson believes that Bale has commanded an unfair reputation, suggesting that he doesn’t get the type of glowing credit he duly deserves:
“Gareth Bale is not somebody you see falling out of nightclubs at 3AM in the morning. Bale is a family man, he’s got a wife and two kids and he enjoys his golf. The worst thing Gareth does is go and have a game of golf. He’s arguably Real Madrid’s best player.”
“He’s the best foreign import that we’ve ever seen go onto foreign soil. He’s got 104 goals for Real Madrid. He’s a world class player.”
“I don’t think he gets the credit he deserves.”
And Hartson really did hit the nail on the head with that one. Bale wasn’t expected to be in the fold at the beginning of the season, but he’s defied the odds and has been highly influential in the early stages of the season, bagging two goals and one assist in the process.
Sure, he has his faults. He sure does enjoy his golf, as Hartson reveals, and he has been injury-prone in the Spanish capital. But he is also a brilliant footballer when fit and fully motivated, one that has the unteachable ability to deliver big performances in big moments.
104 goals and 66 assists in the Los Blancos colours can attest to that and then some. For all the noise and all the past criticism, he’s never been the one to cause trouble, to rebel or to start squabbles. He has kept his head down and, more importantly, he has justified the club’s decision to sign him with his performances on the field.
Maybe the time has finally come to cut Bale some slack and give him the credit he richly deserves.