Bale considering Real future despite starring role in final
Gareth Bale proved his worth to Real Madrid by delivering the Champions League trophy with two sensational goals after coming off the bench in the 3-1 win over Liverpool in the Kiev final, but then declared he would have to consider his future at the club.
Real’s record signing had been left out of the starting line-up for the final for the second year in a row as coach Zinedine Zidane played Isco instead, fielding the same side that beat Juventus 4-1 in last year’s final in Bale’s home city of Cardiff.
The former Tottenham Hotspur star grabbed his opportunity in emphatic fashion after replacing Spain midfielder Isco just after the hour mark, conjuring up an inspired overhead kick to put Real back in front in the 64th minute, after Sadio Mane had cancelled out Karim Benzema’s opportune opening goal.
Bale then sealed Real’s record-extending 13th European Cup with a long-range strike which flew through the hands of Liverpool’s hapless goalkeeper Loris Karius, ensuring he pocketed a remarkable fourth Champions League winners’ medal since moving to the Spanish capital in 2013.
“It has to be the best goal in a Champions League final, there is no bigger stage,” Bale said of his jaw-dropping strike which put Real on their way to a third consecutive Champions League triumph.
“I am just happy to get the win. It is a team game but, when you are a substitute, it is a game of more than 11 players. I made an impact.”
Bale, however, said he was not happy to have been left out of many of Real’s biggest games this season and admitted he would have to think long and hard about his future at the club where he has won so much.
“I need to be playing week in, week out and that has not happened this season. I had an injury five, six weeks in but (have been) fit ever since. I have to sit down with my agent in the summer and discuss it.”
Bale also scored in Real’s 4-1 win over Atletico Madrid in the 2014 final, striking the goal that put Real ahead in extra time and on their way to finally landing "La Decima", the 10th European crown they had craved for 12 years.
He also played a decisive role in winning the 2016 crown against Atletico and struck a memorable winner in the 2014 Copa del Rey final against arch-rivals Barcelona, although his career at Real has been somewhat overshadowed by persistent muscle injuries and a long spell out following ankle surgery.
“Obviously, I was very disappointed not to start the game; I felt I deserved it but the manager makes the decisions,” he said. “The best I have been doing is to come on and make an impact; I certainly did.” – REUTERS