Real Madrid: Gareth Bale has damaged his enviable legacy

Gareth Bale of Real Madrid (Photo by Alejandro/DeFodi Images via Getty Images)
Gareth Bale of Real Madrid (Photo by Alejandro/DeFodi Images via Getty Images) /

Gareth Bale is a Real Madrid legend, but he’s hurt his own legacy.

The confetti had already covered much of the green on the pitch, with players and coaching staff celebrating emphatically near the half-way line. Smiling Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos clapped his hands twice as he marched towards his manager Zinedine Zidane, who was sheepishly attempting to hide himself behind assistant coach David Bettoni.

Other players such as Marcelo, Brahim Diaz, and Dani Carvajal quickly surrounded the happy Frenchman for the traditional “coach toss”. In seconds, Zizou was swept off his feet, with all the players offering an arm of support, intended to launch the legendary Frenchman into the air, as high as they could.

The pictures and videos from that incredible moment perfectly symbolize the comradery and togetherness that drove this team all the way to the finish line during the climax of the season. However what makes this photo as perfect as it is, has much to do with the one figure who in that moment can be seen cross-armed, separated from the mob of players that are gleefully celebrating their great coach.

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That moment accurately highlights the incredibly noticeable disconnect between Real Madrid and Gareth Bale, and after a world record transfer fee, multiple historically significant goals, 13 trophies and seven years of service for the biggest football club in history, the Welshman is on the verge of departure from the Spanish capital with an obvious displeasure towards the fans and the club.

Bale arrived in Madrid before the 2013-14 season for a record-breaking transfer fee from Tottenham. The Welshman was eager to move to Los Blancos after hearing of their interest in his services. He arrived as Florentino Perez’s greatest investment, plucking him in a trifecta tandem with Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo.

El Canon de Gales, as the Madrid faithful grew accustomed to calling him, quickly fell in love with Bale’s abilities and after he scored the go-ahead goal against Atletico Madrid in extra-time of the UEFA Champions League Final in 2014, any doubts about the Welshman’s ability to carry the weight of the Real Madrid badge were rapidly dissolved. He was one of them.

Many British pundits and outspoken Tottenham fans have expressed their support for Bale in his continued disrespect towards the club and fanbase, citing Madrid’s “lack of appreciation” and apparent dissatisfaction with his inability to speak Spanish as viable reasons for the Welsh-international to completely disrespect the fanbase that adored him since his arrival in 2013.

However, these same pundits and fans seem to forget that Madrid have actually had a decent history with acquiring talented stars from the United Kingdom. The likes of Michael Owen and David Beckham, have often expressed positive remarks about their time with Real Madrid. Beckham, in particular, was once one of Perez’s original big-money summer signings, and although his four-year stint with Real Madrid didn’t produce the most trophies, his credibility and connection to the club are still very existent. So the question persists, why?

Why does David Beckham, who won limited trophies and had a fair but not “Bale-like” impact during his four-year stint get more recognition and love as a Real Madrid legend than Gareth Bale, who’s been with Los Blancos for seven years and has won 13 trophies, scoring three goals in two separate UCL finals?

The reality is that nobody knows the reason, except Bale himself. That’s because from the moment he elevated in motion and knocked in that header against Atletico Madrid in 2014, the club, the fanbase, and everybody in between, had fully accepted him as a Madridista. The tension and awkward relationship between the Welshman and Madrid has been a result of his own doings.

Through his continued disinterest in the fans, stubborn inability to adapt to Zidane’s strategies and his complete lack of responsibility towards the success of the club, the Welshman has self-destructed what should be an unbreakable legacy at Real Madrid. Bale has produced career-defining moments in the all-white shirt that others could never achieve, on the verge of building a solid bond with the club that could never be questioned, only to throw it all away at the proverbial “11th hour”, for a little extra cash every week, and some embarrassing memes from his antics on the sidelines, which have ranged from sleeping on the bench to using a roll of tape as binoculars.

Who could forget the infamous, “Wales, Golf, Madrid…in that order” flag that he proudly posed in front of, as the journalists’ cameras were clicking away. The Welshman may feel he’s getting one back on the club and fanbase that have cherished him as their own every time he acts silly, however with Madrid successfully capturing La Liga, establishing a solid defensive core, and planting seeds for the future, the only one who loses in this scenario, is Bale.

His antics will only further dwindle his playing time, further ruin whatever support he has left from the fans, as well as damage his current worth in the transfer market. As someone who witnessed the day he was presented to the Bernabeu faithful, I couldn’t imagine the success and moments of significance this great Welshman would produce for Madrid, but what has shocked me more, is that those moments meant more to me than they did to him.

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Perhaps someday, Gareth Bale and Real Madrid will reconnect the same passion and love that was greatly exemplified by all parties during that historical day in the summer of 2013. For now, however, the chances of Bale having an untouchable legacy at Madrid seems highly unlikely, and much of it is due to his own actions.