Gareth Bale desperate to reach World Cup and fulfil final career goal

  • Wales forward accepts this is probably his final chance
  • Bale still expecting to return to Real Madrid after Euros

Gareth Bale has said reaching the World Cup with Wales would represent the final tick on his football to-do list as they prepare to kick off another qualifying campaign.

Bale has enjoyed a trophy-laden career, winning four domestic honours and four Champions Leagues with Real Madrid, but the Wales captain is determined to help his country to secure a World Cup finals place for the first time since 1958.

Wales, who lost out to the Republic of Ireland for a place in the World Cup play-offs four years ago, begin their quest to qualify for Qatar 2022 against Belgium, ranked No 1 in the world, in Leuven on Wednesday. Wales will again be without their manager, Ryan Giggs, who is on bail having denied allegations of assault and actual bodily harm, and are missing the injured Aaron Ramsey and Ben Davies.

Bale was part of the Wales team that overcame Belgium to reach the Euro 2016 semi-finals and the Tottenham forward, who is set to return to Real Madrid when his loan ends in the summer, said: “Coming into my Wales career the main thing was to play in a major tournament. We’ve managed to do that and now to be able to tick everything off the list it would be to qualify for a World Cup.

“We don’t want to just qualify for one or two tournaments but want to keep qualifying and making sure we’re pushing Wales in the right direction. For me, to qualify for a World Cup would be amazing.”

The Wales midfielder Joe Allen suggested this may realistically be his last chance to reach a World Cup and Bale, who turns 32 in July, shares that sentiment. “He is probably correct,” Bale said. “It is massive for us … It is something that all of us players have dreamed of.”

Bale said he expected to go back to Madrid after Euro 2020. “The main reason I came to Spurs this year was to play football first and foremost but going into the Euros I wanted to be match fit. The original plan was only to do a season at Spurs and then after the Euros I’ll still have a year left [on my contract] at Real Madrid. My plan is to go back and that is as far as I have planned.”


Ben Fisher

The GuardianTramp

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