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'Bale speaks perfect Spanish, he's just shy' - ex-Wales boss Coleman slams 'unfair' criticism of Real Madrid star

2:18 PM GMT+4 18/09/2019
Gareth Bale Real Madrid 2019
Despite playing an important role in much of the club's recent successes, the winger has never really been accepted by the Blancos' fanbase

Former Wales boss Chris Coleman has taken aim at Gareth Bale's detractors at Real Madrid, insisting that suggestions that the attacker refused to learn Spanish at a high level in order to better integrate with his team-mates is simply not true.

Bale's Madrid career has been one of dramatic highs and depressing lows with the winger scoring a plethora of incredible – and important – goals for the club during his time at the Santiago Bernabeu, while also never truly being accepted by the club's fanbase.

There are those that claim the disdain from the Blancos' followers stems from an inability to speak fluent Spanish, as well as allegedly keeping to himself off the pitch rather than socialise with team-mates. Indeed, the 30-year-old has been jokingly dubbed 'The Golfer' amongst the Madrid squad.

But Coleman, who was Bale's national team boss from 2012 until 2017, insists that his former charge speaks Spanish perfectly and that, as a shy individual, prefers to keep his personal life to himself and do his talking on the football pitch.

“I saw John Toshack saying Gareth hasn’t given enough of himself to the public in Madrid,” Coleman told The Athletic . “Well he’s never done that. It’s not his character. When he comes home he plays golf, stays with his family, in his little circle.

“I just thought it was unfair when people were picking him apart. He should do this, do that. No, be yourself. If he’s not happy in his head he won’t be right on the pitch.

“I’ve been with Gareth in Madrid, in a restaurant, and he’s speaking perfect Spanish, ordering food, greeting people. He was very polite, but it’s his own space. He has done all his talking on the pitch. He is the most decorated foreign import from the UK.”

Coleman also added that, given the right circumstances, Bale has no issues in spending recreational time with his team-mates.

“At the Vale [Wales’ training base] we introduced a massive room for the players,” he said. “Pool, table tennis, darts, PlayStations, golf on to the screen. The atmosphere was brilliant and Gareth was in the middle of it with all the lads. 

“He’s not looking over his shoulder, nobody is taking a picture of him. He is quite a shy person, Gareth. The only time he is not is on the pitch.”