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"Whatever Zidane says, everyone just drools" - Bale

In an interview with BT Sport, Bale talked Champions League final, how he gets on with Cristiano Ronaldo, Zinedine Zidane and takes a look ahead to Euro 2016 with Wales.

Bale speaks to the media before the Champions League final with Atletico Madrid.
Denis DoyleGetty Images

Gareth Bale wants to win the Champions League final so badly, he's even willing to cut off his ponytail to do so. The ex-Tottenham whippet has grown in stature with every game this season scoring crucial goals and stepping out of the shadow of Cristiano Ronaldo, none less important than the goal he scored (later given as an o.g) against Manchester City in the semi-final. A win in the San Siro where Bale has shone brightly before (remember that massacre of Maicon's Inter?), would be another step into the hallowed halls of Real Madrid history.

He spoke to Rio Ferdinand at length on BT Sport:

Moving to Madrid as a Galactico

The first season I found it quite good. I think you’re running off emotions, you’re excited to be here. The second season really brought me back down to earth. But I think it was the best thing that happened to me last year. I think you obviously learn when you win but I think you learn more about yourself when you go through those hard times.

It wasn’t a great year for me personally but I feel like now I’ve come out stronger. I’ve come out fighting. It’s shown my character. I feel a lot more comfortable, I’m a lot more involved with the team. I speak a bit better Spanish and I just feel like I’m growing again.

Bale with Florentino Perez in 2013, signing for Real Madrid.
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Bale with Florentino Perez in 2013, signing for Real Madrid.DIARIO AS

Obviously in the first year as well winning the Champions League and the Copa del Rey. Such high moments. And then you have to emulate them again to keep right up there.

I was in a different culture, a different language, in a different country. It’s difficult for my family as well not speaking the language properly. It was a difficult time but, as I said, I think you learn so much more about yourself. Obviously at the time you wish you don’t go through those difficult periods but once you come out the other side you feel a lot stronger for it. If those things were to happen again you’d know how to deal with them and improve as a player.

The more comfortable you feel in any team the better you play. You start demanding the ball, you get confident. In the changing room a few of the players speak English. There’s obviously some people in the club who have really helped me, they speak English as well as Spanish, and help me settle in and try to speak Spanish with me and get me to speak it more and have given me good advice.

Obviously the managers as well. I think Benitez gave me a bit more responsibility at the start of the season which I felt I could feed off a bit and it gave me a lot of confidence. I put in some good performances and then Zidane came in and carried that on and I felt like I’ve just kept growing in confidence and stature.

I think the standard of all the players here is a very high standard. That’s the reason why we’re in the Champions League final again. Going on to the pitch you have that confidence that we’re going to win, that we’re not even thinking about losing, going on and thinking about how many we’re going to score today.

Bale on Zinedine Zidane

He’s been great since he’s come in. Everyone respects him as a football and a man and now as a coach. He’s just got that aura about him. Whatever he says everyone really just drools over the words he says. Whatever he says you trust in what he’s saying. He knows football obviously from when he played. I think he’s just given us that belief, that joy just to go out on the pitch and enjoy yourself.

If you don’t have to worry about certain things you can just go on and express yourself on the pitch you tend to get performances out of players. He’s just given that to the team that we can go out and play and enjoy ourselves.

He’s similar to how he was as a footballer. When he needs to say something he will say it. He’s a firm believer in our need to keep calm. We need to be patient even if it’s the 80 minute and we need to score. He’ll say “be patient, it’ll come, it’ll come,” and not to rush things.

Obviously when something needs to be said he has said it… in Spanish which is a little bit difficult to understand. It’s been good and I think it’s just give the confidence to everybody just to go out and express themselves and I think we’ve been thriving off that.

How does Bale get along with Cristiano Ronaldo?

It’s fine. As you said all the papers and the media try to create a lot of problems. But we’ve never had a problem in the dressing room or on the pitch. I think you know yourself he’s an emotional player on the pitch, he can throw his arms up now and then but that’s how he is.

He works hard for the team and scores goals which is important but as I said we’ve never had a problem. We get on really well. We speak. He speaks English which is good for me. I’m enjoying playing together.

You can see he’s dedicated, always in the gym working hard and stuff like that. I think he’s a bit more laid back than he was at United. He tends to make quite a few jokes and messes around as well which is good for the team spirit. He’s been great since I’ve been here and hopefully we can win more trophies now with him here.

What it feels like to win a Champions League

At my press conference when I first signed it was all about La Decima. Literally the first thing I heard was La Decima. The president straight away said “we’re signing you for La Decima. To win the 10th.” It had been 12 years I think since we last won the Champions League. It’s ingrained in the club, the club lives for European Cups. When you join here you definitely know all about it.

The feeling I expected I think. It’s hard to describe, as you know, winning the Champions League. The night you do it you’re so high you don’t really know what to think. Once it all settles in you still really can’t believe it.

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When we came back here after the game there was like 1 million people in Plaza de Cibeles, where they celebrate the trophy victories. It was just incredible the scenes. The amount of people that came out and it was like 7 in the morning. Still out partying and still there in their numbers. We’re on an open top bus, the sun’s actually starting to come up and it’s just incredible scenes.

Atletico Madrid

They’re a very difficult team to play against. They’re very defensive and tend to park the bus, as people say. We know a lot about them and, yeah, we haven’t had the greatest of record against them in the last 10 games.

But I suppose we can always look back on the final and when it counts we put in the performance and got the result. Hopefully that’s a scar for them, it won’t give them too much confidence. We’re confident going into the game that we can win like we are in any other game and hopefully we can win our second Champions League.

How does the North London Derby compare to Madrid Derby?

It’s way more intense - the relationship is not good. Let’s put it that way.

Respect for Diego Simeone

You have to appreciate what he’s done for that team. In the last 4 or 5 years he’s won trophies and they’ve always been the underdog.

They’ve always been the team that’s probably had to fight the hardest and had the least resources. I think he’s done an amazing job there and hopefully he just won’t do a good job in the final.

La Liga vs the Premier League

The biggest thing is that it’s more tactical here and more technical I suppose. The passing game is a bit more advanced. The patience. Everything is tactical, the managers always have plans.

In the Premier League it’s very physical, end to end. Now especially with the Premier League so open, any team can beat anyone. It’s more back and forth, 100 miles per hour. But the physicality of the Premier League is definitely the biggest difference between them both.

I think the difference from the top to the bottom is very large, whereas in the Premier League the bottom team can easily beat the top team. Last year Leicester were 20 and now they’re top.

Yeah so I think the biggest difference is the teams at the top to the bottom is a very big gap whereas in the Premier League there’s a very small gap between everybody.

Leicester's season

Leicester has been an incredible story. Nobody saw it coming. What was it, with eight games to go they were bottom last season and then to win the Premier League is a phenomenal achievement and I still can’t believe they’ve won it now.

They’ve done amazing. Their players have performed to a high level. They’re maybe similar to Atletico. They work very well as a team, they do everything as a team. As for Tottenham I think they played the best actual football. They’ve been maybe the best footballing team. They were just unlucky not to get over the line.

Wales at Euro 2016

Growing up, some teams have come so close to qualifying in the playoffs and not quite getting there. It was always a dream of mine to be able to qualify with Wales and when we did it just to know that you’ve made history.

We know we didn’t win a trophy but for our country to achieve something like that was amazing and to be a part of it was another dream come true. I can say for every Welshman that we’re obviously proud that we’ve done that. But we don’t just want to make it a one-time thing, we want to try and create now a team spirit. A team to go forward and a winning mentality that we can keep qualifying for major tournaments in the future. It’s great to have qualified.

We’ve enjoyed qualifying but we have to get our head on the actual tournament now and hopefully we can do as well as we can.

We’re so together, it’s similar to Leicester again. We’ve got a very good team spirit. There’s never groups of players together, everyone’s together. We’ve all grown up with each other since under 16s, 17s and we’ve come through the ranks.

John Toshack gave us all our debuts very young and there was a reason for that. We’ve all got 50 caps, 60 caps now and we’re all 25, 26, 27 and I think we’ve got a lot of experience for a young team. We’ve grown together.

We’ve had our dark times together, don’t get me wrong but I now think we’re seeing the positives of what we’ve done in the past by gaining the experience of playing together. We have that atmosphere like a club team, we all get along and we work hard for each other.

Wales' Gareth Bale celebrates after qualifying for UEFA Euro 2016 after Bosnia & Herzegovina v Wales - UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Group B - Stadion Bilino Polje, Zenica, Bosnia & Herzegovina - 10/10/15.
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Wales' Gareth Bale celebrates after qualifying for UEFA Euro 2016 after Bosnia & Herzegovina v Wales - UEFA Euro 2016 Qualifying Group B - Stadion Bilino Polje, Zenica, Bosnia & Herzegovina - 10/10/15.Matthew ChildsREUTERS

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