When Gareth Bale left Tottenham Hotspur in the summer of 2013, many fans and pundits spoke about whether the winger from Wales could work his left footed magic in the Spanish capital. Two Champions League titles and 50 goals in 90 games later, he has just put pen to paper on the most lucrative contract in the history of Football which will see him earn £600,000 a week for the next 6 years, taking him above players such as Messi, Ronaldo and Graziano Pelle in the salary wars.
If there was one moment in Gareth Bale’s career to date which I had to pinpoint was the moment in which his career had truly hit the big time, I would point to the Copa del Rey final on April 17, 2014 against Real Madrid’s arch enemy Barcelona. A game in which both teams were desperate to win, the score was 1-1 and heading to extra time.
Step forward Bale.
The Welshman had drifted out to the right hand side of the pitch to receive the ball, looking for an opportunity to create a chance for his tired team before having to play extra time. He picked up the ball and from that moment, he metaphorically put his foot down. In what can only be described as a moment of absolute genius, Bale knocked the ball past a tired Marc Bartra who was playing right back for Barcelona and, in what looked like at the time to be a heavy touch, sprinted so fast, he beat his defender by running off the pitch and arching back to receive his own pass in time before the ball went out. He cut into the Barca penalty box and smashed a low shot through the legs of keeper Pinto to secure the trophy for Real Madrid. 65 yards in 7.2 seconds.
Out of pure exhaustion after what he’d just done, Bale ran over to his team mates, hands on his knees and celebrated, sort of.
Twitter, Facebook, Marca; you name it, they were talking about that goal. It was absolutely sensational and it was, for me, the moment the guy from Wales propelled himself into footballing elite.
Does he deserve this new deal? Yeah, he does. He’s the successor to the mighty CR7 and he’s here to stay. The deadliest left foot in football.