Bale is more superstitious than a bullfighter

I read earlier in AS that Gareth Bale makes holes in socks to avoid compression on his calf muscles or to let more air at them or whatever it may do. All part of his efforts to avoid picking up injuries. He has also decided to stop driving his Lamborghini Aventador Roadster, which would appear to be a bigger deal as he feels that the posture when driving the car adds pressure to that area of his legs. There are no medical justifications to his decisions but these types of habits can take away mental pressure and if Bale feels happier employing these measures then he may play in a more relaxed manner which is the ultimate objective. His deep underlying back problem still persists though.

Over time I’ve come across many superstitions in the game of football with all relating to the ultimate objective of winning. From individual players (the first I got to know was Puskas, who always left the dressing room last and was careful not to tread on the touchline) to team habits. Valdano told me once that during the World Cup in Mexico, Argentina picked up habits from game to game. Certain routines that were carried out before winning games which Maradona saw as a good omen so they were repeated as the tournament evolved. Warm up routines became as complex as ballets as Maradona felt these were as important as Bilardo’s tactical talks.

Sin tituloReal Madrid's Welsh forward Gareth Bale smiles during a training session on March 7, 2016 at Real Madrid Sport City in Madrid on the eve of their UEFA Champions League football match Real Madrid CF vs AS Roma. / AFP / JAVIER SORIANO

In Bale’s situation, it’s a case of the footballer trying to protect his calf muscles and is totally understandable. He’s suffered six injuries to that area and needs to cling to any added assistance. These types of superstitions remind me of the world of the bullfighter. In that circle there is a dreaded fear of “bulls with black feet” which are alleged to be more dangerous. With every injury the matador can’t fight as with every injury the footballer misses games. It is impossible when to know when misfortune will strike. With constant repetition of his calf injury the Welsh player has started to lose faith in traditional precautionary methods resorting to these new quirks. I wish him well.