The pain in Spain: what really happened to Gareth Bale at Real

Isolated and not on speaking terms with Zidane, the striker escaped the sour atmosphere to rejoin Spurs

18 October 2020 - 18:59 By John Percy

By the end, the only bond between Gareth Bale and Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid was one of mutual contempt. The pair had always had a fractious relationship, but when Bale and Zidane could not even bring themselves to exchange a cursory “Good morning” at Real’s training complex in Valdebebas, it was clear to all parties that the Welshman’s time at the club was over.

It was about the same time that Tottenham Hotspur sensed an opportunity to bring Bale back to the Premier League. For nearly two years, the signing was a personal project for Daniel Levy, the Spurs chairman and, having finally realised it last month, Bale is now in line to make his second “debut” for the club on Sunday against West Ham. For Bale, the move represents a liberation from the stifling atmosphere of Madrid, where his relationship with Zidane and sections of the Real fan base had grown toxic...

This article is reserved for Sunday Times subscribers.

A subscription gives you full digital access to all Sunday Times content.

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Registered on the BusinessLIVE, Business Day or Financial Mail websites? Sign in with the same details.

Questions or problems? Email or call 0860 52 52 00.