Bale not even greatest Welsh player
COMMENT: THE first British derby ever played at a World Cup finals — and quite possibly the final match for Gareth Bale as an elite footballer, writes DAVE KIDD.
England versus Wales adds a serious dollop of local spice to this global jamboree.
We’ve had Welsh actor Michael Sheen geeing up the boyos prattling on about the valleys and “crimson thunder” and the land of our fathers.
And we’ve had Gareth Southgate suggesting that he will use a video of Wales players celebrating riotously in their team room, after England were humiliated by Iceland at Euro 2016, as motivation for the clash in Doha.
So it seems the perfect time for an Englishman to ask: “Gareth Bale, five-time Champions League winner — was he ever really all that?”
No other British footballer has five European Cup winner’s medals and no other British footballer has ever spent nine years on the books of Real Madrid, the most famous club on Earth.
There is no doubt that Bale’s career-highlights reel is sensational.
The “taxi for Maicon” night against European champions Inter Milan back in 2010. The sprint down, and outside of, the touchline to out-pace Barcelona’s Marc Bartra and score in the 2014 Copa del Rey final Clasico. Inspiring Wales to a major semi-final six years ago, as well as their first World Cup in 64 years.
And his two goals in Champions League finals — especially that sensational bicycle-kick against Liverpool in Kiev in 2018.
So, of course, Bale was a special player but the idea that he might be British football’s GOAT is unlikely to garner much favour outside of Wales. Bobby Charlton, Bobby Moore, George Best and Stanley Matthews would surely rank above him. In fact, Bale is probably not the greatest Welsh footballer of all time.
If you asked the late, great Jimmy Greaves to name the best British player ever, as I once did, he’d argue for Bale’s fellow Welshman John Charles — world class at both centre-forward and centre-half and a legend at Juventus.