Gareth Bale's heroics in Champions League final a true middle finger to Zinedine Zidane – but he must not return to the Premier League

If ever there was a case of a player raising his middle finger to the boss in truly glorious style, this was it.


Maybe Zinedine Zidane was too embarrassed to say anything, knowing it was a calamitous mistake to start the Welshman on the subs’ bench in Kiev on Saturday.

Bale had been through four hours which will surely never be experienced again by a footballer on the night of a major match.

At 8pm local time, his world had fallen apart. The Real Madrid superstar was trying to digest the news he would not start the Champions League final against Liverpool.

By midnight in the Ukrainian capital, Bale was celebrating his fourth Champions League success after scoring twice in the 3-1 win.


His first goal — that incredible overhead-kick after just 122 seconds on the pitch — was magnificent even by the standards set by Madrid fans.

Yet even before receiving his medal Bale, clearly furious with his manager, was pondering his future in television interviews.


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And nearly three hours after the final whistle, when Real’s dressing-room celebrations finally stopped, Bale gave an insight into his frustrating and unusual situation to waiting British media.

But this summer, as he watches the World Cup on an extended golfing holiday in the United States, Bale needs to see sense.

He must avoid the temptation of returning to the Premier League with Manchester United or anyone else in England willing to match his £650,000-a-week wages.

He needs to forget about making another move abroad. Bale needs to stay at Real.

His relationship with Zidane has clearly deteriorated over the last few months.

Equally, Real’s spoilt fans need to take a look at themselves for the way they jeered Bale in the quarter-final against Juventus.

The Welshman, 28, has proved an important player for the club and Spain is where he should stay to keep collecting trophies.

He has now scored three goals in Champions League finals and converted a penalty in a victorious shootout.

However much money a player earns, this is a clear example of someone just wanting to play football. Bale, who has notched seven goals in his last five games, said: “I was very disappointed not to start the game.

“I feel like I deserved to because I’ve been playing very well since Christmas.

“But the most important thing is I know how to be professional and when you come on, you need to try to make an impact and that’s what I was able to do.

“I felt like I was over my ankle injury around Christmas. It took a year after the surgery to fully recover but now I’m getting stronger and better.

“I feel there’s still a lot more for me to give and that’s why I need to be playing week-in and week-out.”

Bale has never really been loved by the powerful Spanish media since leaving Tottenham for Madrid five years ago.

One key reason is he does not feel comfortable speaking the language in public, an obvious mistake on his part.

Asked whether he gets enough credit, Bale said: “It doesn’t bother me.

“I know what I’ve achieved. So long as my friends and family are proud of me, then I couldn’t care less.”

Whatever happens, no one will ever take away that moment when Marcelo crossed, Bale jumped on his bicycle and his left foot did the rest.

Bale said: “I’ve tried it many times before and come close. I’ve hit the post. It was just instinctive, I’ve seen the ball there, I’ve had a great connection and seen it fly in.”

His second goal will mainly be remembered for Loris Karius’ mistake. It was Bale’s 21st of the season, 88th for the club and 148th of his career.

Real’s supporters should hope Bale passes 150 wearing a white shirt.

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