Home News Gareth Bale and the dangers of living in the solid gold fish bowl of playing for Real Madrid

Gareth Bale and the dangers of living in the solid gold fish bowl of playing for Real Madrid

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Juanito, one of the most celebrated players in the history of Real Madrid declared, at his presentation as a Los Blancos player that “Playing for Real Madrid is like touching the sky.” In that simple phrase, he probably expressed the emotions of so many players that have pulled on the famous all white shirt. Gareth Bale will doubtless experience something very similar when his deal to go to the Bernabeu is finally completed.

There’s more to joining a club such as Real Madrid than the history and glory however. And when you’re the world’s most expensive player, those other things are likely to be magnified exponentially. It will doubtless be a challenge for a seemingly well-grounded person like Bale to adapt to a totally different lifestyle. Failure to do so may mean that the goldfish bowl could feel more like a prison however, and a prison is a prison even if the bars are of gold.

As the deal nears completion, a number of people are offering advice to Bale as to how to ensure that not only is he a success on the field, but also his off field and family life is enhanced by the experience.  Michael Owen joined Madrid , not as the burgeoning world star that Bale is, but as a famous signing none the less. He describes a salutary tale of how the process shouldn’t be managed. Like Bale he moved to Spain with a partner and a young child, but opted for hotel room rather than moving into a house. He freely admits that he never really integrated in the Spanish lifestyle and culture and in an article in the Telegraph website explains how life became so difficult for him and his family. At least Owen had the escape of playing and training, plus the camaraderie of his team mates. For his wife however, isolated in a hotel room, it was much more difficult. Owen relates that:

“A few times I used to play nine holes of golf with Ronaldo – the Brazilian – and the reserve keeper César Sánchez. I felt really guilty. I knew my wife and daughter would be in the hotel with nothing to do. I would get in the car after training, and my wife would call, asking: “How long until you are here?” “Twenty minutes.” She’d then ring again. “How long now?” “Five minutes.” It paints a sad picture.

It shouldn’t be thought that Madrid is the only place where this can occur. An article from the Guardian online relates the fate Juan Roman Riquelme, an Argentine signed by Barcelona. It illustrates just how bad it can be:

“Riquelme became so homesick, he admitted several years later, that when he went back to Don Torcuato on his holidays he often cried when it was time to leave. Ferran Soriano, Barcelona’s vice-president at the time, remembers someone from the club giving Riquelme a lift home and being shocked by the state of his apartment. “All there was in the living room was a table with a checked tablecloth and a few chairs. There was a container for mate and that was it.” Soriano speaks of a player who “lived in total isolation in Barcelona, without his family, pulled down by permanent sadness”.

Clearly these are the extreme stories, and there’s nothing to say that Bale won’t experience an enriching lifestyle enjoyed by the like of David Beckham and Steve McManaman in Madrid. The young Welshman will doubtless have sound advisors around him and Madrid will have support systems in place to ensure any transition in lifestyle is managed successfully.

Playing for what is probably still the most famous club in the world is the dream of many professional player, and to have this delivered at the tender age of 23, with the additional accolade of being the most expensive player in the world, with financial security is probably more than anyone can rightly ask for, but this is where Bale is.

On the field there’s every likelihood that during the extent of Bale’s contract there’ll be an abundance of medals and glory that is almost the right of all Real Madrid players. Such riches and the more financial wealth that will also come his way will seem as irrelevant however if, when reaching up to touch the sky, Bale’s happiness drowns in the gold fish bowl of  life at the club.

 

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References:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/columnists/michael-owen/10263747/Michael-Owen-Real-Madrid-was-a-horror-story-for-me-off-the-pitch-but-Gareth-Bale-will-flourish-if-he-feels-at-home.html

Balehttp://www.theguardian.com/football/blog/2013/aug/24/gareth-bale-david-beckham-real-madrid

 

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Football is a game of passions and opinions. If you’re a fan, it’s both your boon and your bane; the drug that you simply cannot live without. Your team will break your heart, make you despair and swear that you’ll give them up. Like some lovestruck fool ensnared by a femme fatale however, you’ll be back again next week. You know it. They know it. Just accept it and embrace it. The lows are bad, but oh, those highs….. Now in my sixth decade, I’ve been a football fan for over fifty years and a Chelsea fan for every one of them. I hold FA Coaching badges and have been a member of the FA Coaches Association for over 15 years, working with numerous teams of varying age and ability levels; it’s the next best thing to playing. That said, I still regularly don the guise of the ‘Panther’, and keep goal for our company team. I’ve written a number of articles focusing on Spanish Football for a different website, and welcome this opportunity to “call it as I see it, without fear or favour” about our game. As I said, football is a game of passions and opinions, so agree or disagree with what I write as you see fit, I’ll passionately tell you my opinion, you tell me yours. For more from All Blue Daze: Twitter: @All_Blue_Daze Blog: www.allbluedaze.tumblr.com. Facebook: Search ‘All Blue Daze’ and ‘Like’