Joy of the playground defined Gareth Bale more than records or trophies | Gareth Bale

For Gareth Bale, the pitch and the playground may as well have been the same thing. Watch back some of his greatest goals and you can almost glimpse the school tie flapping behind him as he runs, a battered sponge ball sticking to his feet, the cautious teacher carrying a tray of orange squash across the penalty area.

Of course Bale always played to win. But in the 30-yard screamers and lightning bursts of speed, you can spot something else there too: a young man playing for the sake of playing, for the thrill of solving a new problem, playing to feel. What was the point in running unless…


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