Like most people born in Cardiff, it’s very easy to forget about Gareth Bale.
Even those from Wales who excel in their respective fields never seem to get to the very top. Bond films got better when Shirley Bassey stopped singing in them, Giggseh has his own private issues and even Ramsay Bolton couldn’t maintain his reign of terror for too long.
So it just seems fitting that Bale, while naturally gifted like so many of his fellow Welshmen, falls short of global superstardom – mainly because of an oily Portuguese God-like specimen that rode off to Italy on the back of a legacy nobody could ever match.
In short – 2018/19 is a big year for Gareth Bale.
There’s many reasons for this, too. The main one is that he’ll be taking on an expanded role with the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Madrid will do well to make up the amount of goals per season that he managed to accumulate, but Bale has always popped up in the big moments. We’ll now see if he can manage week in, week out.
He’s also turning 30 at the end of the season. While it doesn’t exactly alert Charon that you’re on the way to Hades just yet, it does signify a drop in market value and perceived ability.
Bale’s glory days were at Tottenham before he was deemed talented enough to move to the biggest football club on the planet.
It appears that, after five years in limbo, he’ll finally be able to make a meaningful contribution.
If you needed any proof of how big a club Madrid are, just read the last sentence again and remember that he’s scored 70 times for Los Blancos. More is expected in Madrid and this season could be the making of him.
Another reason he needs to focus on the campaign at hand is because he must avoid injuries. Bale’s been hampered by niggles throughout his career; presumably why Alex McLeish decided against signing him for £3.5 million a few years ago for Birmingham City. Good shout, Big Eck, good shout.
Injuries at this stage of his career would probably limit his appeal to clubs in England and the other major leagues around Europe.
This is for two reasons: availability, obviously – but also because his wage demands won’t drop either way. Welcome to the plight of modern football.
The way I see it, Bale does one of three things by season’s end – he’s Real’s top scorer in all competitions, justifying a new deal and the faith shown in him by his new boss; he jets back to England to join Spurs; or he has to go to China to earn enough money to allow him maintain the luxurious lifestyle he’s gotten used to.
I know they say Cardiff is the Beijing of the British Isles, but this might not be the easiest transition for a bloke who grew up around sheep and presumably listened to the Manic Street Preachers.
The 29-year-old has been somewhat of a footballing enigma and I’m not exactly sure anyone else has escaped definition as much as he has.
Nobody really knows his level, because in truth, he’s only had three seasons where he’s gotten into a proper rhythm.
It’s incredible to say these things about a man who has featured in three Champions League finals, and scored crucial goals in two of them.
Bale has the ability to be an absolute superstar. His stardom has been capped by the shadowing presence of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Finally, with his 30s just around the corner, we’ll see just how good Gareth Bale really is – or we’ll see how quickly he can learn Mandarin after he struggled with Spanish for so long.