Gareth Frank Bale (born 16 July 1989) is a Welsh footballer who plays for Spanish club Real Madrid and the Wales national team, as a winger. Bale began his professional career at Southampton, playing at left backand 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 offensive 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. In 2011 and 2013 he was named PFA Players' Player of the Year, and was named in the UEFA Team of the Year. In 2013 he was also named PFA Young Player of the Year and the FWA Footballer of the Year. On 1 September 2013, Bale was transferred to Spanish team Real Madridfor 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). He played an integral role in his first season at Real Madrid, helping the club to win the Copa del Rey and the UEFA Champions League, scoring in both finals. The following season he won the UEFA Super Cup and in December 2014 scored in a third major final to help the club win the FIFA Club World Cup.
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in a 2–1 win over Trinidad and Tobago, making him the youngest player ever to play for Wales until his record was superseded by Harry Wilson in November 2012. 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. On 12 October 2012, Bale scored two goals in a 2–1 victory over Scotland in a 2014 World Cup qualifier.
On 9 September 2014, Bale scored two goals, one with a header and another one with a free kick, as Wales beat Andorra 2-1 in their first match of the UEFA Euro 2016 qualifying campaign. In doing so, he became Wales' joint 10th all-time top-scorer with 14 goals, alongside John Hartson.
Bale started out as a left back at the beginning of his career. It was at Tottenham Hotspur that Harry Redknapp decided to utilise Bale's pace and played him as a left winger, where he developed into a world class player. He is known for his physical fitness, pace, skill, stamina and agility with an ability to regularly get past defenders. Possessing excellent technique and ball control, Bale is
also a free kick specialist, as evidenced with his two bending free kicks against Olympique Lyonnais. As he moved further forward onto the wing, he began to score goals on a regular basis with strikes from outside the penalty box. A player hard to contain in one vs one situations, opposing managers have employed two players to stop him when he receives the ball. As Bale has 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 Luis Figo, Jose Mourinho, Igor Stimac, and Dani Alves. 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, Andre Villas Boas, deployed Bale in this role on a more permanent basis.
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