Bale spent nine years with Real Madrid, helping them to win three La Liga titles and five Champions Leagues, but his final few years in the Spanish capital were challenging
Gareth Bale has finally earned some well-deserved appreciation from Real Madrid for his efforts for the club over the past nine years, which was marred by frequent falling outs with their fans.
The Welsh international joined Los Blancos from Tottenham in 2013 in a £ 86million deal. He won 16 major trophies with the Spanish giants, including three La Liga titles and five Champions Leagues, scoring in two of those finals.
Despite that impressive haul, Bale has had an uneasy relationship with supporters and the Spanish media, leading to frequent run-ins. Those clashes had come amid what has been an injury-ravaged second-half of his spell in Madrid, with Bale struggling to stay fit for his club.
He will leave the Bernabeu when his contract expires at the end of June, but unlike Marcelo, he will not be given an official send-off. But he has now surprisingly been handed ‘legend’ status by Los Blancos and been added to their ‘football legends’ section on their website.
His profile in that section is titled “The unforgettable bicycle kick to clinch La Decimotercera” highlighting his bicycle kick in the 2018 Champions League final against Liverpool. The piece goes on to brand him a “central figure” in Madrid’s success over the past decade.
“Gareth Bale has been a central figure in one of our club’s most successful eras, winning five European Cups, three of them consecutively, between 2014 and 2022. The Welshman arrived at Real Madrid at 24 years of age and was unveiled on 2 September 2013 before making his debut on 14 September at El Madrigal against Villarreal. He also marked his first Madridista appearance with a goal, “the piece says.
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“In his impressive spell in our colors, Bale compiled an remarkable collection of trophies: 5 Champions Leagues, 4 Club World Cups, 3 European Super Cups, 3 LaLiga titles, 1 Copa del Rey and 3 Spanish Super Cups.
“Bale hit over a century of goals for Real Madrid, and the greatest of his 106 strikes will live long in the memory, a spectacular overhead-kick in the final which yielded La Decimotercera against Liverpool.
“That’s not to mention his header in the final for La Décima or his lung-busting run and finish in the 2014 Copa del Rey final. On an individual level, the Welsh international was named Player of the 2018 Champions League Final in Kiev and won the Golden Ball at the Club World Cup in 2018. “
Madrid’s fans may be less than happy to see him handed ‘legend’ status, given their obvious dislike of him. The relationship between Bale and supporters became irreprovably fractured in November 2019 when he was pictured with a ‘Wales, Golf, Madrid’ flag in November 2019.
That picture came amid accusations that Bale had a ‘work-shy’ attitude to Madrid, given his numerous injury issues. Fans began to boo him at both the training ground and the Bernabeu, with the attacker being told to “go play golf” in some confrontations.
Matters came to a head this season, when he hit back after being branded a “parasite” by Spanish newspaper Marca. He was then booed at the Bernabeu, which Madrid had opened up for fans not traveling to Paris to watch the game on big screens.
As Bale’s name was read out and his picture appeared on the screens, there were whistles and boos. The Welshman did thank fans for their support in a farewell message when news of his release was made official.