Gareth Frank Bale (born 16 July 1989) is a Welsh professional footballer who plays as a winger for Spanish club Real Madrid and the Wales national team. Renowned for his ball striking from distance, swerving free kicks, and his ability to get past defenders with pace, Bale has received plaudits from his peers, who have described him as a footballer with “tremendous speed, great crossing ability, a great left foot and exceptional physical qualities”. He began his professional career at Southampton, playing at left-back and earning acclaim as a free kick specialist. Bale moved to Tottenham Hotspur in 2007, for an eventual £7 million fee. During his time at Tottenham, managerial and tactical shifts saw him transform into a more offensive player. From the 2009–10 season, Under the guidance of Harry Redknapp, Bale became an integral part of the team, rising to international attention during the 2010–11 UEFA Champions League. In 2011 and 2013 he was named PFA Players’ Player of the Year, and was named in the UEFA Team of the Year. In 2013 he was also named PFA Young Player of the Year and the FWA Footballer of the Year. One of the fastest footballers in the world, Bale started out as an offensive left-back at the beginning of his career. It was at Tottenham Hotspur that his manager Harry Redknapp decided to utilise Bale’s pace and played him as a left-winger, where he developed into a world class player. He is known for his physical fitness, pace, skill, stamina and agility, with an ability to regularly get past defenders due to his acceleration. Possessing good technique and ball control, Bale is also a free-kick specialist, as evidenced with his two bending free kicks against Olympique Lyonnais. As he moved further forward onto the wing, he began to score goals on a regular basis with powerful strikes from outside the penalty box. A quick, strong, hard-working, and dynamic player who is hard to contain in one vs. one situations, opposing managers have employed two players to stop him when he receives the ball. On 1 September 2013, Bale was transferred to Real Madrid for an undisclosed fee. Press at the time reported the transfer value at figures between €91million and €100million. In January 2016, documents pertaining to the transfer were leaked which confirmed a world record transfer fee of €100.8 million, eclipsing the previous record fee of £80 million (€94 million) for Cristiano Ronaldo in 2009. Bale played an integral role in his first season at Real Madrid, helping the club to win the Copa del Rey and the UEFA Champions League, scoring in both finals. The following season he won the UEFA Super Cup and scored in a third major final to help the club win the FIFA Club World Cup. Bale made his senior international debut for Wales in May 2006, becoming the youngest player at that point to represent the nation. He has since earned over 50 caps and scored 19 international goals, making him Wales’ joint fifth-highest scorer of all time.

He was the top goalscorer for Wales in their successful qualifying campaign for UEFA Euro 2016, scoring seven goals. He was the top goalscorer for Wales in their successful qualifying campaign for UEFA Euro 2016, scoring seven goals; he subsequently represented his nation in the final tournament as they reached the semi-finals.

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