Belfast Telegraph

Now we are all waiting to see if star Bale is the Real deal

By Robert McNeill

Oh, Gareth B, what have you gone and done? Mr Bale of that ilk has signed for Real Madrid.

Still, even I, a diehard Barcelona fan, might have been tempted to try out for Franco's old favourites.

Let's see what's on offer: nearly 300 grand a week and a big hoose. Hmm, tempting. I'm sure I could boot a ball hither and yon for that.

Alas, I'm not so fast now and, as I grew older, came to detest all the foul-mouthed shouting that accompanies the people's sport. Sensitive soul, d'you see?

Being a sensitive soul, I won't detain you with details about the footer side of things, as many of you won't know one corner of a ball from another.

What interests me is the Bale himself and his missus too. For they don't seem normal footer types.

He likes to stay in of an evening, preferably watching a DVD with Mrs B. Yay, way to not go out.

He doesn't drink either and presents himself as a modest soul. I was going to say he probably drives a Ford Focus but, alas, he succumbed to the lure of a Porsche, a car I never liked the look of, which is probably just as well.

I just hope it doesn't all go wrong for the likeable Welsh lad (he's only 24). The weight of expectation on him is enormous.

He'll have to run right fast and jump dead high and dribble up and also down the pitch, nutmegging opponents as he goes.

It's a parable of our times. How is wealth and, even worse, sexual opportunity, not to turn the young man's head?

Bale is married to his childhood sweetheart and is a terrific role model for young men growing up in a confusing world.

If he can hold true and straight as an arrow, the world will owe him a great debt, even if it's already nearly bankrupted itself to pay his wages.

Any jealousy he receives is most likely to come from his team-mate, Cristiano Ronaldo, a sublime talent, second best player in the world after Barca's Lionel Messi and, until Bale's £85 million transfer, the most expensive footerist ever.

Cristiano has an ego the size of Gareth's homeland and won't take kindly to having the limelight taken off him.

On the other hand, the two of them could become a fantastic partnership, conquering all before them until Lionel – another nice wee laddie, as it happens – shows them who's boss.

The money is, of course, nuts. We live in a financially unhinged world. You sometimes hear unmedicated people defending this sort of thing as the natural outcome of healthy capitalism.

Arguably, though, it's a terrible insult to the struggling poor, not least in yonder Spain, where many good citizens have been brought low by the basketcase economics of our time.

No use protesting it, I fear. They march in Spain frequently and lob objects at the constabulary. But it never achieves anything and, in the end, most people just sit about the house complaining.

Gareth will have little to complain about, as he cuddles up to his un-waggy wife in their hacienda, if that is the term.

He says he'd have gone to Real for a penny, and I believe him. We're all rooting for you, laddie. But, remember, it's only a game.

Belfast Telegraph


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