Bale during his unveiling as a Real Madrid player in September 2013.
|Full name||Gareth Frank Bale|
|Date of birth||16 July 1989|
|Place of birth||Cardiff, Wales|
|Height||1.83 m (6 ft 0 in)|
|–||Cardiff Civil Service|
* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only and correct as of 19:56, 5 April 2014 (UTC)|
‡ National team caps and goals correct as of 21:40, 5 March 2014 (UTC)
Bale began his professional career at Southampton, playing at left back and earning acclaim as a free kick specialist. He moved to Tottenham Hotspur in 2007, for an eventual £7 million fee. During his time at Spurs, managerial and tactical shifts saw him transform into a more offensively-orientated player. From the 2009–10 season, Bale became an integral part of the team, rising to international attention during the 2010–11 UEFA Champions League. He was named PFA Players' Player of the Year in 2011 and 2013, and was named in the UEFA Team of the Year in 2011 and 2013.
Bale has received plaudits from his peers, who have described him as a footballer with "tremendous speed, great crossing ability, a great left foot and exceptional physical qualities". During the 2012–13 season he was awarded the PFA Young Player of the Year, the PFA Players' Player of the Year and the FWA Footballer of the Year awards.
On 1 September 2013, he was transferred to Spanish team Real Madrid for an undisclosed fee. The Spanish press and Real Madrid TV reported £77 million (€91 million), while the English press reported a world record transfer fee of £85.3 million (€100 million), which would be above Cristiano Ronaldo's transfer record fee of £80 million (€94 million).
- 1 Early and personal life
- 2 Club career
- 3 International career
- 4 Style of play
- 5 Trademark application
- 6 Sponsorship
- 7 Career statistics
- 8 Honours
- 9 References
- 10 External links
Early and personal life
Bale was born in Cardiff, Wales, to parents Frank, a school caretaker, and Debbie, an operations manager; he attended Eglwys Newydd Primary School at Whitchurch. He is the nephew of former Cardiff City footballer Chris Pike. It was while at this school he first came to the attention of Southampton at age nine, when he was playing in a six-a-side tournament with his first club, Cardiff Civil Service Football Club. Growing up, his football hero was fellow Welshman and Manchester United player Ryan Giggs.
Bale attended Whitchurch High School in Cardiff. He was a keen athlete and played football alongside future Wales rugby captain Sam Warburton, rugby, hockey and excelled at athletics. As a 14-year-old he says that he ran the 100 metre sprint in 11.4 seconds. Because of his superior footballing skill, the school's PE teacher, Gwyn Morris, had to write special rules which restricted Bale to playing one-touch football and not using his left foot. Whilst at Whitchurch, Bale trained at Southampton's satellite academy in Bath, although there was initially some doubt if Southampton would give him a scholarship due to his height.
Despite being only 16 at the time, he helped the school's under-18 side win the Cardiff & Vale Senior Cup. He left school in the summer of 2005 with a Grade A in PE amongst his other GCSE results. In his final year at school, he was awarded the PE department's prize for services to sport. In the presentation, Morris commented:
"Gareth has a fierce determination to succeed and has the character and qualities to achieve his personal goals. He is one of the most unselfish individuals that I have had the pleasure to help educate."
Bale lives in Madrid with his partner Emma Rhys-Jones, his high school sweetheart. Their first child, born at the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff on 21 October 2012 was named Alba Violet.
On 17 April 2006, at the age of 16 years and 275 days, Bale became the second youngest player ever to play for Southampton (after Theo Walcott, who was 132 days younger) when he made his debut in the Saints' 2–0 victory against Millwall. On 6 August, Bale scored his first league goal, a free kick, to level the score at 1–1 against Derby County. The final score at Pride Park was 2–2.
He scored again, at St. Mary's, against Coventry City in the team's second game of the 2006–07 season with another free kick. Bale further developed his reputation as a free kick specialist when he struck the post from one against West Bromwich Albion. By 16 December 2006, Bale's goal count had risen to five, thanks to a late equaliser against Sunderland and free-kicks away to Hull and at home to Norwich City.
In December 2006, he won the Carwyn James Award for the BBC Wales Young Sports Personality of the Year, and was named the Football League Young Player of the Year on 4 March 2007. This capped what was described in the local press as an "incredible" first full season as a professional footballer in which he was one of the Saints' "most creative players even (though operating) from the left-back position whilst his defending improved immeasurably as the season progressed."
His final game for Southampton was in the first leg of the Championship play-off semi-final against Derby County on 12 May 2007. Bale suffered an injury during the second half, preventing him from appearing in the second leg. In total, he made 45 appearances for Southampton, scoring five goals.
On 25 May 2007, Bale signed a four-year deal with Tottenham Hotspur with Spurs paying an initial £5 million for Bale, potentially rising to £10 million based on appearances and success. However, Tottenham paid Southampton an early settlement payment of £2 million in 2008 to reduce the final fee to £7 million and allow the Saints the immediate cash that they desperately needed.
Bale played his first game for Spurs in a friendly against St. Patrick's Athletic on 12 July 2007, but was substituted on the 80th minute with a minor dead-leg. He made his competitive debut for Tottenham Hotspur on 26 August away against Manchester United. In just his second Spurs appearance, he scored his first goal for Tottenham in the 3–3 draw with Fulham on 1 September when he latched on to Robbie Keane's flick, charged down the left flank unopposed and coolly slotted past goalkeeper Antti Niemi. Bale went on to score again against Arsenal in the North London derby, scoring a free kick inside the near post. He then scored in the League Cup home tie against Middlesbrough, making it three goals in four starts for the then 18-year-old.
Bale was substituted after sustaining an injury resulting from a tackle from Fabrice Muamba in the league fixture against Birmingham City on 2 December 2007. A scan revealed that Bale had suffered ligament damage to his right ankle, consigning him to an extended period on the sidelines. Bale had exploratory surgery on 11 December 2007. By February 2008, it became clear that Bale was to miss the rest of the season through injury. Sporting Director, Damien Comolli said, "Even if the examination reveals that Gareth's foot is stable, the decision has been taken to bring him back slowly to ensure he does not get a repeat of the injury or suffer any further damage. Gareth is obviously disappointed to be sidelined for this length of time but he is still young and we have to do what is best for him in the long run."
Bale signed a new four-year deal with the club in August 2008. After some mediocre performances, Bale was dropped in favour of Benoît Assou-Ekotto and the latter remained first-choice for most of the season.
In June 2009, Bale underwent surgery for a knee injury, ruling him out for over two months. He missed pre-season matches and it was projected that he would miss the first few weeks of the 2009–10 season. On 26 September, he made his comeback as an 85th minute substitute in Tottenham's 5–0 thrashing of Burnley. This was Bale's first ever involvement in a Premier League win, after playing a record 24 league matches for Spurs without being on the winning side. However, he endured a frustrating time on the bench as Benoît Assou-Ekotto was in good form. When Assou-Ekotto was sidelined with an injury, manager Harry Redknapp decided to give Bale a chance and he impressed in Spurs' FA Cup third-round 4–0 win over Peterborough. He finally tasted victory for the first time as a starter in a league game in the 2–0 win over London rivals Fulham on 26 January 2010.
Bale's good form continued and he was named Player of the Round after helping Spurs to a 3–1 win in the sixth round replay of the FA Cup against Fulham. In April 2010, Bale scored the winning goal in a 2–1 North London derby win against Arsenal, tapping past Manuel Almunia after a pass from Jermain Defoe. Three days later, Bale scored Tottenham's winning goal with his weaker right foot in a 2–1 victory over league leaders and eventual champions Chelsea and was named Man of the Match. He was named Barclays Player of the Month for April 2010. He signed a new four-year contract at White Hart Lane on 7 May 2010 as a reward for helping the club reach the Champions League qualification place.
On 21 August, Bale scored twice in a 2–1 win at Stoke City, the second of which was a head-high volley into the top right hand corner of the goal. This was later awarded Goal of the Month for August 2010 by the BBC. On 25 August, Bale set up all four goals to help Spurs overcome Young Boys 4–0 (6–3 agg.) in a Champions League play-off at White Hart Lane. Although Assou-Ekotto had already returned from injury, Bale continued his good form and cemented his place in the starting eleven, moving forward to left wing to accommodate Assou-Ekotto at left back. On 29 September 2010, Bale scored his first Champions League goal for Tottenham in a 4–1 home win against Dutch champions FC Twente in their second game of the group stages. In recognition, he was named Welsh Player of the Year by the FAW.
On 20 October 2010, Bale scored his first senior hat trick against European champions Inter Milan at the San Siro in the Champions League. Tottenham lost the match 4–3, having been 4–0 down inside the first 35 minutes and playing with ten men for over 80 minutes of the match after goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes had been sent off in the eighth minute for a professional foul on Inter's Jonathan Biabiany. In the return match at White Hart Lane on 2 November, Bale provided a man of the match performance, setting up goals for Peter Crouch and Roman Pavlyuchenko to earn Spurs a memorable 3–1 win.
On 4 November, Bale stated that he intended to remain at Tottenham for the remainder of his recently signed four-year contract, despite reported interest from other clubs. On 19 March 2011, Bale extended his stay at the club until 2015.
Bale scored his first goal of the season on 24 September 2011, in an away game against Wigan Athletic. The game ended in a 2–1 victory for Tottenham. He added his second and third goals of the season on 30 October with two goals against Queens Park Rangers in a 3–1 home win. He continued his good form with the first goal in a 3–1 victory over Fulham the following week, whilst also setting up Aaron Lennon who made it 2–0 on the stroke of half time. The first goal against Fulham was later ruled by the "dubious goals committee" to be an own goal by Chris Baird.
On 3 December 2011, Bale scored the first goal in Tottenham's 3–0 victory over Bolton Wanderers. He marked the goal with a tribute to Gary Speed by holding up his left boot, with "R.I.P Gary Speed" stitched on it, in front of the Bolton fans. On 27 December, Bale scored twice to give Tottenham a 2–0 win against Norwich City. On 5 January 2012, Bale was one of the players voted into the UEFA Team of the Year 2011. He scored his third brace of the season as he scored twice against Wigan on 31 January to take his tally to ten goals for the season. In January 2012 he was the Premier League Player of the Month for the second time in his career, after three goals and two assists in the Premier League for the month.
On 27 June 2012, Bale signed a new four-year contract, committing his future to the club until 2016.
Bale scored his first goal of the season against Reading in a 3–1 away victory. On 29 September, Bale scored the second goal in Tottenham's 3–2 away victory over Manchester United, their first win at Old Trafford since 1989.
He scored his first Premier League hat-trick in a 4–0 away win on Boxing Day against Aston Villa. Bale then scored in the FA Cup third round fixture against Coventry City as well as assisting Dempsey on both his goals in a 3–0 win. On 30 January, Bale scored a superb solo effort in the 1–1 draw with Norwich City. Bale then scored against West Bromwich Albion in a 1–0 away win. Bale then took his goal tally of the season to 15 goals with a brace against Newcastle United in a match which Spurs won 2–1, this took Spurs into third place, and strengthened their Champions League ambitions.
In Bale's next game he scored directly from two free kicks, one from 35 yards out just before half time and another from 25 yards out in the dying seconds of injury time, to give Tottenham a 2–1 victory over Olympique Lyonnais in the first leg of their Europa League round of 32 tie. This took Bale to a tally of ten goals in his previous ten appearances. In Tottenham's Premier League match against West Ham on 25 February, Bale scored the first and third in a 3–2 win for Tottenham. His second, a long range dipping strike from over 30 yards, in the dying stages of the game, capped a world class performance. This was his eighth goal in six games.
On 3 March 2013, Bale scored against Arsenal in a North London derby that Tottenham won 2–1. On 7 March, Tottenham faced Internazionale in the Europa League, with Bale scoring the opening goal and Tottenham winning 3–0.
Bale's run of good form in the early months of 2013 saw him win Premier League Player of the Month for February as well as the BBC's Goal of the Month in both January and February for his strikes against Norwich City and West Ham United respectively.
On 4 April, Bale injured his right ankle in the first leg of the Europa League quarter final against FC Basel. On his return from injury, Bale scored a goal and assisted Clint Dempsey as Tottenham beat Manchester City at White Hart Lane.
On 28 April 2013, Bale won both the PFA Players' Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year after his excellent showing in the 2012–13 season. A week later, on 2 May 2013, he added the FWA (Football Writer's Association) Player of the Year Award, making Bale one of only two players who have won all three in the same season, the other being Cristiano Ronaldo, who won them in 2007. Bale scored the winning goal against his former club Southampton on 4 May. The goal gave Spurs a 1–0 win as well as being Bale's 20th in the Premier League in his 200th appearance for Spurs. On 19 May, Bale scored a 90th minute goal from 25 yards out. This goal gave Spurs a 1–0 win over Sunderland, but was not enough to give them Champions League football for the following season.
On 1 September 2013, Spanish side Real Madrid announced that they had reached an agreement for the transfer of Bale, signing a six-year deal for an undisclosed fee. The Spanish press (and Real Madrid TV) reported that Bale had cost £77 million (€91 million), while the British press reported a world record transfer fee of £85.3 million (€100 million), which would be above Cristiano Ronaldo's transfer record fee of £80 million (€94 million). Bale was assigned the number 11 shirt at Madrid.
The first half of Bale's season was plagued by injuries; of Real's first sixteen games after his signing, Bale missed five and was substituted on or off in six others, playing only five full games.
Bale scored on his Real Madrid debut, a goal coming in the 38th minute against Villarreal CF, before being substituted later in the game for Ángel di María. Bale's second appearance for Madrid came in a 6–1 victory over Galatasaray in the Champions League. Although Bale only played the final twenty-six minutes, his free-kick led to Cristiano Ronaldo's second goal of the game. On 28 September 2013, Bale made his home debut as a second-half substitute in a 1–0 loss to local rivals Atlético Madrid.
Due to a recurring thigh injury he suffered during pre-season, Bale missed the first two games of October, against Copenhagen and Levante. Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti continued to gradually ease him back into action, as he played 14 minutes against Málaga on 19 October. He won a stoppage time penalty which Ronaldo scored to give Madrid a 2–0 victory. Following another brief appearance against Juventus in the Champions League, Bale made his El Clásico debut on 26 October, but was substituted in the 61st minute. Barcelona won the game 2–1, and Bale's performance drew criticism from certain sections of the media, especially El Mundo Deportivo, whose headline read: "Neymar eats Bale". Four days later, he scored two goals and assisted two in a 7–3 victory against Sevilla. Following his impressive performance the Spanish press nicknamed Bale "The Cannon".
In November, he assisted a further two goals in Madrid's 3–2 victory over Rayo Vallecano, before scoring in a 2–2 draw with Juventus in the Champions League. On 9 November, Bale assisted Sami Khedira's goal in a 5–1 win over Real Sociedad. On 23 November, Bale scored his fourth league goal in eight games as Madrid defeated Almeria 5–0. He then scored a dipping free-kick against Galatasaray in the Champions League, a match which Madrid won 4–1 despite being a man down. On 30 November, Bale rounded off the month by grabbing his first hat-trick for Real Madrid, as well as assisting Karim Benzema in a 4–0 victory over Real Valladolid. It was a "perfect" hat-trick, Bale scored with a header and each foot.
Bale was selected by Wales at the end of the 2005–06 season and made his international debut on 27 May 2006. He first appeared as a substitute in a 2–1 win over Trinidad and Tobago, making him the youngest player ever to play for Wales. Bale, who was just 16 years and 315 days, assisted the winning goal scored by Robert Earnshaw.
Brian Flynn commented that Bale was potentially a future star of the game, comparing his technical ability to that of Ryan Giggs. On 7 October 2006, Bale became the youngest player ever to score a goal for the full Welsh national team in the Euro 2008 qualification match against Slovakia with a free kick. He scored his second goal for Wales in a 3–0 win over San Marino on 28 March 2007.
Bale was eligible to play for England through his grandmother, but he stated in 2007 that:
"It is an honour to play for Wales...Nobody ever got in touch with me personally from England, only through my agent."
After a long injury lay-off, he returned and started in the World Cup qualifier against Finland on 10 October 2009. On 14 October, he played a part in Wales' final World Cup qualifier by setting up David Vaughan to score the opening goal against Liechtenstein and won the free kick that led to the second, Aaron Ramsey's first at senior level.
In December 2010, Bale was awarded the BBC Cymru Sports Personality of the Year trophy.
Bale, who met the age criteria to play in the 2012 London Olympics, said he would "love to play in the Olympics" for the Great Britain Olympic football team, in defiance of the Welsh FA. On 28 October 2011 Bale became the first player to be photographed modelling the British 2012 London Olympics football supporters' shirt. In response, Football Association of Wales chief executive Jonathan Ford said: "Our position remains unchanged. We are not for Team GB. Gareth can make his own choices and make his own decisions. But we are not going to stop anyone playing." On behalf of Bale a spokesman said "while he is 100% Welsh, he is also British".
At the end of June 2012, Bale pulled out of the tournament with a back injury. On 29 June, he advised the Team GB football manager, Stuart Pearce, that he would not be available for selection as he had aggravated an old back and hip injury during a training run. In view of the short recovery time between the end of the Olympics and the start of the Premier League season, Bale had decided to withdraw rather than exacerbate the problem. Bale recovered from his injury in good time to be included on Spurs' pre-season tour of the United States, scoring against LA Galaxy on 24 July and against New York Red Bulls a week later. Between these matches, Bale also played against Liverpool when he was injured in a tackle by Charlie Adam.
Bale's appearances in Spurs' pre-season tour coincided with Team GB's Olympic matches, where they drew with Senegal before victories over United Arab Emirates and Uruguay took them through to the knockout stages, where they lost to South Korea following a penalty shoot-out. Bale's withdrawal from the Team GB squad attracted calls for sanctions against him including a ban from the rest of Spurs' pre-season tour but, in the absence of an official complaint by Team GB, these were not carried out. Spurs' manager, Andre Villas-Boas, defended the player insisting that Bale "had recovered quicker than expected". The club's stance was supported by British Olympic Association chairman Lord Moynihan.
Tottenham released a statement in relation to Bale's non-selection for Team GB, they stated that "Gareth sustained an injury as he built up his fitness ahead of joining up with Stuart Pearce's side. MRI scan reports were sent to the FA medical team on 29 June (2012). He was subsequently not selected on the basis of this injury and the inability to predict recovery time. This decision was not taken lightly and made only after consultation with Team GB's medical team, who were in agreement after seeing the medical reports".
Style of play
In his early years of his career, Bale started out as a left-back. It was at Tottenham Hotspur that Harry Redknapp decided to utilise Bale's tremendous pace and experimented him as a left-winger. Bale is noted for this physical fitness such as his pace, stamina and agility. In terms of technique, Bale has good ball control, a free-kick specialist as evident in his 2 goals from free kick against Olympique Lyonnais, hard to contain in 1v1 situation that managers of other teams have decided to employ at least 2 players to stop Bale whenever he receives the ball and recently, to score goals on regular basis from outside the penalty box.
As Bale developed into one of the most dangerous left-wingers in the world, his style of play has won admiration from managers, current and past players such as Luís Figo, José Mourinho, Igor Štimac, Dani Alves and Phil Neville.
Bale has been described as a footballer with "tremendous speed, great crossing ability, a great left foot and exceptional physical qualities". Former Liverpool player and BBC football pundit Mark Lawrenson said "What makes Gareth Bale so special? Simple. He is one of the quickest players I've ever seen, but he has another gear and the ability to find that extra pace within the next stride. He has the ability to perform and use his technique at great pace."
During the 2011–12 season, Harry Redknapp experimented with using Bale in a free role. The following season, André Villas-Boas, deployed Bale in this role on a more permanent basis.
On 2 November 2010, after a Champions League group stage match against Internazionale, teammate Rafael van der Vaart said, "Everyone is scared of him [Bale]. Maicon is one of the best defenders in the world, and he's killed him."
In a report of the same match, Spanish newspaper El Mundo said:
Bale combines the height and build of an 800-metre runner like Steve Ovett with the acceleration and directness of a rugby winger like Bryan Habana. And, when he gets to the byline, he delivers curling crosses like a Brazilian. Big words? Yes, but that's what Bale is like – easily the greatest sensation in the opening month and a half of the Champions League. Ask Maicon what he thinks after the two exhibitions Bale turned in against Inter. Yesterday he left Maicon for dead and then a wily old fox like Lúcio was left in his wake like someone trying to follow the vapour trail of an aeroplane. Three goals and two assists — against the European champions. His performances have been stunning.
If we sell him, we've had it haven't we? It would only be a Barcelona, a Man City or a Real Madrid who would be able to pay for him. He's an amazing player. He's got everything, there's not a weakness in his make-up. He can head the ball, he's as strong as an ox, he can run, dribble and shoot. Most important of all, he's a smashing lad.
"He made me feel an inch tall. Took me to pieces. He just doesn’t stop running. It's ridiculous."
"He's an amazing, amazing talent and he's after the Ronaldos and Messis of this world and he's getting better and better. He's almost unplayable when he's on his game. He is a genuine world-class player. There's nobody he couldn't play for. He'd improve any team."
Bale has been accused of diving by sections of the British media. However, this has been denied by Bale, Redknapp and Wales coach Chris Coleman. On 29 December 2012, Bale picked up his third yellow card for simulation for the 2012–13 season. It was his fifth for simulation since the start of the 2011–12 season, and no other Premier League player had more than two cautions for simulation in that time. Between August 2008 and his departure from the Premier League, he was booked eight times for simulation. The next most-booked players were shown three yellow cards each.
On 26 March 2013, Bale filed an application with the Intellectual Property Office to register a logo based on his "heart" goal celebration along with his squad number, 11, to be used on a range of merchandise such as clothing and footwear.
- As of 8 April 2014
|Wales national team|
- Scores and results list Wales' goal tally first.
|1.||7 October 2006||Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales||Slovakia||1–2||1–5||Euro 2008 qualifying|
|2.||28 March 2007||Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales||San Marino||2–0||3–0|
|3.||12 October 2010||St. Jakob-Park, Basel, Switzerland||Switzerland||1–1||1–4||Euro 2012 qualifying|
|4.||7 October 2011||Liberty Stadium, Swansea, Wales||Switzerland||2–0||2–0|
|5.||11 October 2011||Vasil Levski National Stadium, Sofia, Bulgaria||Bulgaria||1–0||1–0|
|6.||12 November 2011||Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff, Wales||Norway||1–0||4–1||Friendly|
|7.||11 September 2012||Stadion Karađorđe, Novi Sad, Serbia||Serbia||1–2||1–6||World Cup 2014 qualifying|
|8.||12 October 2012||Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff, Wales||Scotland||1–1||2–1|
|10.||6 February 2013||Liberty Stadium, Swansea, Wales||Austria||1–0||2–1||Friendly|
|11.||26 March 2013||Liberty Stadium, Swansea, Wales||Croatia||1–0||1–2||World Cup 2014 qualifying|
|12.||5 March 2014||Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff, Wales||Iceland||3–1||3–1||Friendly|
- Southampton Academy
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- Tottenham Hotspur 'Player Of The Year': 2012–13
- Wales Player of the Year Award: 2010, 2011
- BBC Wales Sports Personality of the Year: 2010
- BBC Wales Carwyn James Junior Sportsman of the Year: 2006
- Premier League PFA Team of the Year: 2010–11, 2011–12, 2012–13
- FWA Footballer of the Year: 2012–13
- PFA Players' Player of the Year: 2010–11, 2012–13
- PFA Young Player of the Year: 2012–13
- UEFA Team of the Year: 2011, 2013
- Premier League Player of the Month: April 2010, January 2012, February 2013
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Gareth Bale.|
- Real Madrid profile
- Gareth Bale – UEFA competition record
- Gareth Bale – FIFA competition record
- Wales profile
- Premier League profile
- ESPN Soccernet Profile
- Transfermarkt Profile
- Gareth Bale at Soccerbase
- Gareth Bale at National-Football-Teams.com
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