Bale: "I have no regrets of what I've done, whatever anyone else has said, that's up to them. I know my opinion of myself and my family know exactly what I am, so that's all I'm worried about"
Saturday 26 September 2020 10:03, UK
Gareth Bale says he "grew up" during his time with Real Madrid and has "no regrets" over any of his actions having departed the Spanish club to return to Tottenham.
Bale joined Spurs on a season-long loan earlier this month seven years after having departed north London for a then world-record transfer fee.
Despite having played a key role in Real winning four Champions League titles, Bale fell out of favour with manager Zinedine Zidane and made just 20 appearances last season as he was frozen out by the Frenchman.
The 31-year-old also endured a strained relationship with the Spanish media, who were highly critical of him, particularly towards the end of his time in Spain.
The Spanish press were outraged when Bale was pictured with Wales team-mates in November 2019 holding a flag reading 'Wales. Golf. Madrid - In that order' - while this month he was seen cupping imaginary binoculars to his face while sitting on the bench for Real, having also covered his eyes with a facemask, pretending to sleep, in July.
Asked if he regretted anything he did or said in Spain, Bale told Sky Sports: "No I don't have any regrets, no. I just try and play football, that's all I can do and everything else that's said externally is out of my control.
"As I said, I have no regrets of what I've done, whatever anyone else has said, that's up to them. I know my opinion of myself and my family know exactly what I am, so that's all I'm worried about.
"Obviously going into a different culture, a different country, I've had to grow up as a person, never mind a footballer.
"You just learn how to deal with the situations that you're in. Obviously I've been in immense pressure situations. I've had people on the pitch whistling in the stadium to me.
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"So yeah I've just learned how to deal with those type of things, to not take it to seriously, take it too much to heart, and yeah just get on with it. It's football - something that you love doing and you just need to give your best and sometimes that's all you can do."
Tottenham finished sixth in the Premier League last season, and with Bale's arrival the club will be aiming for a return to the top four and Champions League qualification.
After a surprise defeat at home to Everton in their season opener, Spurs overcame a lacklustre first-half performance to thrash Southampton 5-2 on Sunday, giving them some much-needed momentum to take into this weekend's match against Newcastle.
"Of course when you come into any club you want to do well, you want to help the team as much as you can," Bale said.
"We have a great team here now with a great squad. They've been doing great. Obviously in the time that I've gone away they've gone on and on and obviously reached the Champions League final, the club's got a new stadium, the club itself is better, they're doing better in the Premier League every year.
"So I just want to add to that. I want to try and bring a bit more to the team and try and progress even more and keep pushing in the right direction."
Bale is not expected to feature imminently for Spurs as he recovers from a knee injury suffered on international duty with Wales in early September, but he has already been thinking about his first appearance.
Asked what he is looking forward to most, Bale said: "Just playing. I think putting that Spurs shirt on again.
"Obviously it's disappointing that the fans aren't going to be there at the stadium for my first game back because I feel like the reception would have been incredible but just looking forward to playing football, playing with the team, doing as well as I can, helping the team and having a great season collectively."
In the new Pitch to Post podcast, the panel reveal the inside story on Gareth Bale's return to Tottenham and discuss the size of Manchester United's problems.
Sky Sports reporter Paul Gilmour spent 16 hours at the Tottenham Hotspur training ground on the day Bale was finally announced as a Spurs player after seven years in the Spanish capital.
"It was a bit of a long day," he told the Pitch to Post Podcast. "I headed out in my polo thinking it would be done and dusted long before it got cold, and I was still there at 10.30pm at night! I'd been on site since around about 7:30am for the first live to Sky Sports News.
"Even after the last update at 10.30pm, I still had to do a recorded piece to go out later that evening so it was a long day, but it's totally worth it on a day like that. It felt like Deadline Day and those days don't come around too often."
Read our full feature here and listen to the podcast above.