Gareth Bale exclusive: Playing the best football of my life
Gareth Bale is on fire. Full of power, pace and fantastic goals, he’s been virtually unplayable for much of this season. So much so, many now consider the Tottenham star the Premier League’s best player – and arguably the third greatest footballer on the planet, behind Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Here, Life’s a Pitch’s Mike Calvin catches up with the Welsh winger to discuss his blistering form, how exactly he executes his devastating free-kicks and who he rates the most: Messi or Ronaldo?
On his current form…
“I’m probably playing the best football I’ve played so far in my career. The older you get, the more experienced you get: you learn your own game. I’m enjoying my football, which is probably the most important thing that has enabled me to play like I am at the moment.”
On being double-marked by opponents…
“It’s been happening for a few seasons now, and it’s something you just get used to. On the left wing it’s more difficult to find space where you can get away from defenders, but now I’m learning my new role coming inside, there’s a lot more space on the whole pitch than there is just on the left wing.”
On those dipping free-kicks…
“I’ve been practising it for quite a while; a couple of seasons. Everybody knows what Cristiano Ronaldo has done with his free-kicks – the way he hits the ball, the style he does it in – and it’s working for him. A lot of players are now trying it out and, thankfully, it’s started to pay off for me, as I’ve scored three goals like it this season.
“At the start the main thing is to get the technique right, so at first it’s best to have nothing in front of you. As you get better you start adding the wall and the mannequins, and then eventually you bring a keeper in. It’s more of a progression and it does take a while to master.”
On being described as a leader…
“There are a lot of leaders and captains who speak verbally but when I played for Wales when I was younger, Ryan Giggs always led by example on the pitch. In our team at Spurs we’re a very close bunch, we all lead each other.”
On Tottenham’s prospects this season…
“We can go as far as we want to. We’ve got the talent, we’ve got the potential and we’ve got the work-rate. As long as we all stick together, we can achieve our goals for the season.”
On André Villas-Boas’ influence…
“During the week we work more on the opposition we’re playing against, rather than just going out to train. On the pitch we know what we need to do, we know the shape we need to be in.”
On the players’ performance analysis dossiers…
“The good thing is that it’s left up to us. All the data is there if you want it, and certain players go in for it, certain players don’t. It’s how you want to use it yourself rather than forcing it on people. It’s our choice and I think its good to have that information.”
On role models…
“The likes of Messi and Ronaldo are on another planet to everybody else. They’re the standard that everybody would love to get to. In the past, when Ryan Giggs was in his prime he was one of the world’s best and him being Welsh and left-sided, he was always the player I loved to watch.”
Messi or Ronaldo?
“For me, personally, I’d say Ronaldo. He’s got the whole package. He’s strong, he’s powerful, he’s pacey, can head the ball, strike the ball. Obviously, you can’t say anything bad about Messi, but for the all-round complete footballer, I’d say Cristiano Ronaldo.”
Watch the full video interview by clicking on the play button in the image above.
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