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Entrevista con Gareth Bale



Entrevista de Guillem Balague

On the eve of Tottenham`s historic Champions League quarter final against Real Madrid, Gareth Bale tells Guillem Balague all about life at the lane, the thrill of European football and how he`s coping with his sudden status as one of the continent`s most coveted talents.

Gareth Bale: I don`t play to try and be the best, but to deliver what`s asked of me, aiming higher, step by step. My body has stopped growing, but now I have to develop the game in my head. Playing every week helps me improve because I`m marked very closely in the league, there`s almost always a couple of defenders on me and I cannot always use my speed; so to keep my place in the first team I`ve got to seek other solutions. I`m not one to go to the gym; I did a little when I got injured a couple of years but now my preparation is all about playing and relaxing.

Guillem Balague: That`s the trick for Harry Redknapp: improve players through actual playing time, more than training ground drills: It`s more fun that way, right?

Gareth Bale: It`s like playing in the street. Harry wants us to do what we do and it benefits the team. With Juande, I was injured a long time. But that was a strange time; Juande didn`t speak very good English and wanted us to do things his way. Harry allows us to express ourselves freely and that is what has led us to the level we are at. We have to believe more in ourselves, we have one of the best squads in the Premiership and can be even better

Guillem Balague: But in Europe, there`s more of a tactical dimension to the game no?

Gareth Bale: Against the big teams we have certain obligations, but you see the best version of us when we can go on the attack without restrictions. Look at the way against Inter we were losing 4-0 and we almost turned it around. Against AC Milan, at home the team had to keep its shape and we recognized the need to curtail our instincts. We are able to do both. Against Milan at home, we had to do many things that are not natural but we gave ourselves the lead and we defended quite well

Guillem Balague: And since scoring that hat-trick against Inter, your name has been linked with both Real Madrid and Barcelona....

Gareth Bale: I try not to think about it. My teammates joke a lot about my future, but it doesn`t wind me up. I`m playing the best football of my career at Tottenham. You know what? It feels as if they are talking about someone else when I read about what I might cost and the clubs that are supposed to love me

Guillem Balague: Do you see yourself staying at Tottenham for the next fifteen years?

Gareth Bale: You never know, but I have no fear of leaving the country. If a great opportunity comes along, it has to be taken seriously. I have not given it much thought, but I`ve done before: I left home at age 15. If I leave the Premier, learn another language, learn about other people, another country, then I will grow as a person. You don`t see many British players overseas because the league is very strong, but now yours is up there with Ronaldo, Messi ... Maybe it`s even a bit better than ours and perhaps that might encourage people to go over there more often.

Guillem Balague: What are you, a winger or full back

Gareth Bale: Everyone thought I would be a full back, but in the last year I have not played in defense and we`ve seen my best football. Attacking makes me feel good, I`m an offensive player. Some say I could play like Ronaldo in Madrid.


Guillem Balague: What`s the mood on the training ground ahead of the dual showdown with Real Madrid?

Gareth Bale: We are all looking forward to it. We sincerely believe that we can get past both legs. Madrid is a fantastic team and I`ve seen them play on TV almost every week for years, I love the Spanish league. But we know how to win. Madrid play on the counter and the forward three have a lot of quality. Mourinho`s got them well organized, and Xabi Alonso always knows what the match needs. A tie in the first leg would be fine.

Guillem Balague: For previous generations, Real Madrid had a special aura. That feeling lingers for kids your age?

Gareth Bale: I grew up watching and admiring Zidane, Figo, Ronaldo. And yes, the club has an incredible aura. We are talking about the best club in the world. Real Madrid has a history, identity, glamour. As a youngster I used to try and copy things that Ronaldo or Zidane or Beckham did at the Bernabeu, like the Zidane turn, without falling over.

Guillem Balague: The Champions League is probably your biggest stage if Wales does not qualify for the World Cup

Gareth Bale: I am a very proud of my Welsh roots. We have some great young players (Jack Collison, Aaron Ramsey) and a new coach who wants to lead us to the next World Cup. But now I`ve tasted the Champions League, I want to play in it every year. When the music plays before the game, it gives you goosebumps.

I love football, I love to play it, to watch it; I grab every Barcelona and Madrid game I can. We are all trying to imitate Barcelona without the ball: it`s something we study with the national team. Barcelona play the best football and are creating their own style.

Guillem Balague: What player`s shirt will you ask for against Madrid?

Gareth Bale: I have already asked for Giggs and Nesta recently ... I will ask for Ronaldo`s shirt. He`s actually a player I have always focused on; he`s a reference point: we`re similar kinds of players, in terms of physical power and pace. I see him do things and I like to try and repeat them.



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