Gareth Bale has hit back at his critics, saying they “don’t know what they are on about”, and claims to have embraced his “golfer” nickname at Real Madrid.
The Wales international endured a difficult summer, with an entire transfer window dominated by speculation surrounding his future . Another deadline passed with no move made, despite links to teams in China and across Europe, and the 30-year-old has played his way back into favour under Zinedine Zidane.
Bale claims to have never had any doubt regarding his ability to prove his worth at the Santiago Bernabeu, with the exit talk which raged around him having been shrugged off.
“I know most people don’t know or don’t understand the situation. What they write means nothing. It didn’t impact on me too much.
Bale added when quizzed on whether he now feels more settled, with two goals and a red card collected in his last outing for Real :
“I suppose so. The transfer window is closed now! I am obviously fully fit and I am ready to go. Maybe I wasn’t in the summer.
“I don’t think mentally it [the criticism] affected me at all, but not playing for four, five or six weeks meant physically I wasn’t where I wanted to be. I am a professional and I am paid to play football.
“You go through ups and downs and people like to say whatever they want.
“At the end of the day I keep working hard in training. If you keep working hard things will turn and you will get rewarded for that.”
When the transfer rumours peaked over the summer, Bale was painted as an outcast in Madrid who lacked the support of both his manager and many of his club colleagues.
Comments from Thibaut Courtois in which the Welshman was branded “the golfer” were considered to be a slight on his inability to integrate in a star-studded squad, but such talk has been laughed off.
“I am a golfer. Have you not seen the pictures? I spoke to him [Courtois] about it and he said it as a joke. People took it out of context, but I’m very happy with the nickname to be honest.
“It’s a great one. Football is my No.1 sport. I’m paid to do it and I always give my best. Golf is a hobby like anyone else would have a hobby. There is nothing wrong with having a round.
“People make a lot of it, but a lot of footballers play and it’s one thing I really enjoy. It keeps me calmer off the pitch and gives me time away from football which is nice.”