- Bale fit for World Cup opener
- Captains Wales' second-ever World Cup appearance
- Empathises with players missing out
WHAT HAPPENED? Speaking at Wales' final press conference before they jet off for Qatar, talisman Bale confirmed he'll be ready for the opening game against the USA on November 21. It's a fixture that'll see Bale become the first captain to lead a Wales side out at the World Cup since Jimmy Murphy did it back in 1958.
WHAT THEY SAID: "I'm 100% fit and ready to play," said Bale, despite recent reports to the contrary.
He continued: "There is no problem. If I need to play three games of 90', I will play three. It has been difficult, mentally more than anything. I guess for everyone, the last three or four weeks, it's been tough, even hearing stories of players getting injured and knowing they're going to miss the World Cup. Talking to some of the guys, even for them having to play this weekend was tough mentally, and we're praying we don't get any injuries because it's a great occasion."
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Bale's fitness has left him down in the past, especially during the latter of part of his time with Real Madrid. In his last season in the Spanish capital, he featured just five times in the league. He has also completed 90 minutes for LAFC once since his summer move to the states - that was in their MLS Cup playoff victory over Philadelphia on November 5, in which he scored a last-ditch equaliser.
IN TWO PHOTOS:Getty Images
WHAT NEXT FOR BALE? As far as the 33-year-old is concerned, he'll know that the upcoming tournament in Qatar will be his one and only chance to impress for his country on the world stage. He'll be 37 by the 2026 edition, making his participation highly unlikely. He'll be hoping to fire Wales to an opening day win over the USA on November 21.