Follow the coverage match: Valencia vs. Real Madrid
Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane says he simply told Gareth Bale to enjoy himself as he whispered in the winger's ear ahead of his goalscoring comeback against Espanyol.
After three months out with an ankle injury, Bale was given the last 19 minutes as a substitute at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday.
Zidane was seen whispering to the Wales international as he stood on the touchline preparing to replace Alvaro Morata, who had headed in Madrid's first goal from Isco's cross earlier in the 2-0 LaLiga victory.
With 83 minutes on the clock, Bale celebrated his return in style, coolly converting another assist from Isco to cap a swift Madrid counterattack.
Zidane: "Bale is a special player. (Before subbing him on) all I told him was to go out & enjoy himself." 😉 pic.twitter.com/FbUytfBu17— M•A•J (@UItraSuristic) 19 February 2017
Bale "a special player" - Zidane
"All I told him before the substitution was to go out and enjoy himself," Zidane told reporters.
"Gareth is Gareth. He is a special player, different to the others.
"I was glad about his return and, above all, happy for him to feel like a football player again after spending three months away from the pitch.
"He is very happy and was really eager to return. We are all excited he is back and he has returned in the best way possible."
Zidane continued: "But we have 24 very good players who are happy to be able to help the team when their moment comes.
"It is important that they feel that way. We will have many games and will need them all."
Madrid are now four points clear of Barcelona at the top of the table. Third-placed Sevilla can reduce their lead at the top to three if they defeat Eibar later on Saturday.