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Gareth Bale has improved at Real due to his role with Wales

Wednesday 12th October 2016
Gareth Bale struggled to settle initially at Real Madrid, but three years on, the Welsh wizard is now in top form. Bale's responsibilities for Wales have played a big part in his resurgence; during Wales' recent success, Bale has reminded us all why he's one of the world's best.
In September 2013, Gareth Bale joined Real Madrid from Tottenham Hotspur for £85 million, which was then a world record transfer fee. During his time at Tottenham, Bale established himself as one of the best players in the Premier League: he scored 21 times in his final season at the club, and the Welshman was also voted PFA Players' Player of the Year. At that time, Bale's ability, and tender age, meant he could one day become the world's best player.

Despite scoring Madrid's all important second goal in their 4-1 victory in the 2013-14 Champions League final, Bale found it difficult to recapture his best form in Spain; Bale's impressive performances, which had previously lit up the Premier League, seemed to have deserted him. Bale received a fair amount of criticism from the Spanish media, and from the Madrid supporters, as he went through a period of being booed by his own fans, which led to a question: was Bale just another overhyped modern-day player?

Bale has answered that question emphatically with his recent performances for both club and country: his level of performances and influence on the Madrid team has increased since Zinedine Zidane took charge of the club; Bale's also played a big role for his national side. Over the last 18 months, Bale's been sensational for Wales as they embarked on their incredible journey, which saw Chris Coleman's side finish second in their qualifying group for the European Championships, and then perform above all expectations to reach the semi-finals of Euro 2016.
Wales' qualified for a major competition for the first time since the 1958 World Cup; Bale was immense along the way, scoring seven times during qualification, and he added a further three goals during the competition in France - including two memorable free-kicks, with one coming against England. Bale led by example throughout the competition, he galvanised his side when it was most needed on and off the pitch, and he provided the cutting-edge in front of goal. While Wales have good players, Bale is the star of the side, the genuine world-class talent, which he proved over the summer.

When Bale first arrived at Madrid, he was a talented youngster with the world at his feet, but he didn't possess the mental strength required to make him an instant hit at the Bernabeu. Bale had the electric pace, the quick feet, and the ability to score from anywhere on the pitch, but at that time, there was still something missing from his game. The responsibility placed on Bale while playing international football has not only had a big impact on Wales' performances, it's also had a huge effect on Bale personally, and it stands him in good stead as he career progresses.

The added responsibility that fell on Bale's shoulders while wearing the Welsh jersey has helped improve him as a player: he thrived at Euro 2016 with the added pressure of being Wales' best hope of success. Bale no longer shies away from the limelight like he once did, instead, he's embraced the situations that he finds himself in, which bodes well for his career at Madrid. The Welsh superstar has proven that he's capable of being the talisman in a team, he's already achieved it for Wales, and he's now in an excellent position to replicate it at Madrid.
Danny Glendenning

Passions include reading, sport, and nights out with friends. A football fanatic whose writing career began in May 2016. Now 30 years old, lives in South Yorkshire - local team is Doncaster Rovers, although heart lies with Arsenal. Contributing editor for It's Round And It's White. Current claim to fame is an interview with Ron Atkinson. Always looking for work, either editing or writing. Contact via email: Dannysg1988@outlook.com. Or Twitter: @DannySG1988.



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