Can Gareth Bale Truly Be Considered One Of The All Time Greats?

Published on 11/14/2021

As Gareth Bale acquired his 100th cap over the weekend, it is the perfect time to take a step back and analyze his impact on world soccer. Bale caught the eye with his lightning-pace, strength and wicked left foot. Bale is somewhat of a freekick specialist and has been in the topic of conversation regarding the world’s best forwards for the majority of his career. The ‘Welsh Wizard’ is most memorable for his time at Real Madrid, but also played for English sides Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur. With great talent comes great controversy, however.

Questions have been asked of Bale’s attitude at the elite level. There’s no doubt that he has the talent, but does he really have the desire to be considered among the same stature as other greats like Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos or Beckham? Well we have weighed-up all the relevant factors, so take it all in and decide for yourself.

Russia World Cup 2018

Russia World Cup 2018

The Beginning

It was quite obvious at an early age that Bale was going to be a talent, and this was shown when he broke into the Southampton squad at the young age of 16 years and 275 days. In his first full season as a soccer player he won the award of ‘Football League Young Player of the Year’ in 2007, some feat for someone so young. This season saw him earn a move to London side Tottenham Hotspur, a top side sniffing around the Champions League spots. It was at Spurs that Bale was eventually converted from a left-back into a winger, something manager Harry Redknapp can be quite proud of himself for instigating. Redknapp noticed that Bale’s pace, power and attacking ability was wasted in defense, and after converting him to a more attacking position really noticed the fruits of his work.

Not Always Smooth Sailing

It wasn’t always smooth-sailing for Bale at Spurs, however. Did you know that Bale once endured a 24-game winless streak in the Premier League? Sure, he persisted and this run eventually came to a swift end and we truly remember some great moments of Bale in attack for Spurs. One that springs to mind is the time Bale completely embarrassed Inter right-back, Maicon. Bale used electric-pace to sprint past his opponent and leave him playing catchup. It was only one goal of three that day as Bale’s Tottenham almost secured a draw at the San Siro, but was still a mightily impressive individual performance.

Real Madrid

When Real Madrid come calling, not only do you know you’ve made it at elite level, but you also don’t say no! Bale may have been happy in the English capital, but the chance to play for a club as famous as Real Madrid is something no player can turn down. It was on the 1st September 2013 that Real Madrid announced they had signed Bale for a world-record deal at the time, €100.8 million. This surpassed the previous record, the €94 million Real had also spent bringing Cristiano Ronaldo to the club. Bale took the number 11 and was ready to form the third part of elite attacking trio ‘BBC’ (Bale, Benzema, Cristiano). Bale’s stats speak for themselves at Madrid. He has scored 81 goals in 174 league games for the club so far and has personally put in performances that have been critical for Madrid in big games. One that springs to mind is his incredible bicycle-kick in the Champions League Final, against Liverpool. Bale showed unbelievable athleticism to jump up so high and stretch for an acrobatic finish.

Truly World-Class?

So now come the time for debate. Is Bale truly one of the world’s greatest? Well in recent seasons it would be fair to say that Bale has not lived up to other moments in his career. Well past his prime, Bale is now into his final year of his contract, where it will almost certainly not be renewed. Bale spent significant time on the bench in recent seasons under manager Zinedine Zidane, and we wonder if he really has the desire to be the best. It has been a long-running joke that Bale has always loved golf more than soccer, but is it true? Bale admits himself that golf is one of his favorite sports and he was good enough that he could have even made it as a golfer. During a tough period at Madrid he even held up a flag stating ‘Golf. Wales. Madrid – In that order’ during a Wales fixture. On top of this, he seemed quite content sitting on the bench earning mega-wages of $690,000 a week- even being caught goofing about.

Failed China Move

In 2019 Bale had almost secured a move to Chinese club, Jiangsu Suning. The move ultimately fell through for unclarified reasons, but at age 30, an age where he could still make a significant impact on European football, it brings to question whether Bale preferred the big bucks, or success.

Spurs Return

Bale did show his desire to play by rejoining Spurs on loan, where he did well when played by manager Jose Mourinho. Now back at Madrid, Bale has been injured for much of the early season so hasn’t played a whole lot. Despite this, current coach Ancelotti is a fan of his, and has stated that Bale is very much in his plans. This is surely Bale’s last chance to make an impact and truly stamp himself into the list of World’s greatest footballers.


A player like Bale, who has achieved what he has must be considered a world-great. Perhaps one of the greatest ever British soccer players, he needs to have a strong end to his career to make it onto the same level as true legends of the sport. Initial verdict however? Certainly an all-time great.