Gareth Bale has issued a defiant response to his doubters, with some joking the Welshman has been more of a golfer than a footballer during his time at Real Madrid.
Despite winning four Champions League trophies, one La Liga title and a Copa del Rey with Los Blancos, the forward has never managed to satisfy his critics following an £86m switch from Tottenham Hotspur in 2013.
During his pre-match press conference (via the Telegraph) ahead of Wales’ next game, Bale joked about his nickname, and insisted he actually quite likes it: “I am a golfer. Have you not seen the pictures? I spoke to him [Courtois] about it and he said it was a joke. People took it out of context but I am very happy with the nickname to be honest. It’s a great one.”
In the press conference (via the BBC) he also spoke about those who question his motivation and ability, Bale stated: “I don’t listen to them because they don’t really know what they are on about.
“I know most people don’t know the situation, don’t understand the situation. What they write means nothing.”
Bale appeared destined to leave Real over the summer as returning manager Zinedine Zidane tried to freeze him out, yet a move never materialised.
As a result, many suggested the 30-year-old was more focused on earning money – he pockets roughly £600,000-a-week in Madrid – than getting on the pitch.
Addressing such concerns, he explained: “I am a professional, I am paid to play football. Obviously you go through ups and downs and people like to say whatever they want.
“At the end of the day, I know I keep working hard in training and doing the correct things.
Coming back to pre-season I just kept my head down. I know there was a lot of talk with everybody saying good, bad, whatever they wanted.
“I just kept my head down, kept working hard in training. The things that happened will stay private with the club. If you want answers, maybe you need to ask Real Madrid.”
Bale grabbed a brace in Los Blancos’ 2-2 draw away to Villarreal on Sunday, though he failed to finish the match after picking up a second yellow card in stoppage time.