Age has finally caught up to 66% Real Madrid’s famous BBC trio. Cristiano Ronaldo moved out of Europe. And now, Gareth Bale retires from football.
Bale retires after having a spectacular career for club and country, though, he had his fair share of unfulfilled promises, largely due to health issues.
The memories of that goal vs. Barcelona in Valencia; that header vs. Atletico in Lisbon, and that overhead kick vs. Liverpool in Kyiv are forever stitched into Real Madrid’s folklore and are well-celebrated among Madridistas. Today’s agenda, however, is about three Gareth Bale moments that are not talked about enough:
The brace at Rayo, 2016
Gareth Bale scored six goals in two games vs Rayo in the 2015-16 season. Under Rafa Benitez, he scored four goals in a 10 - 2 bloodbath at the Bernabeu. In the return game, at a crucial moment of the season when Madrid were still in contention for the title, Bale came up with an immaculate performance vs Rayo Vallecano at Vallecas.
Cristiano Ronaldo was out injured and Rayo went up 2-0 early in the game. Bale scored one back in the first half, Lucas Vazquez made it 2-2 and in the 81st minute of the game, Gareth Bale created a classic Real Madrid remontada with a devastating finish.
Demolition of Sevilla, 2013
Real Madrid had just returned from Barcelona on the back of a grim defeat in the Clasico — Carlo Ancelotti’s first as Real Madrid’s manager. Carlo had been under huge pressure already in the next game having made some interesting selection choices in the previous game such as playing Sergio Ramos in midfield and dropping Karim Benzema.
The next game at the Bernabeu, however, was the perfect remedy: a 7-3 demolition of Sevilla. Many of us probably think about the 6-1 win over Shakhtar as the true beginning of ‘BBC’. But it was in fact this game vs Sevilla that commenced the destruction caused by this legendary trio over the years. A hat trick from Cristiano and braces from both Benzema and Bale put a smile back on everyone’s face, including Ancelotti’s.
La Undecima, 2016
La Decima and the final in Kyiv are so big for appropriate reasons that the final of La Undecima often gets forgotten. Bale himself has two massive moments in these two games that his 2016 masterclass is almost always overlooked.
Real Madrid had broken the world record for transfer fees for the fourth time when signing Gareth Bale from Tottenham Hotspur. He repaid the faith by putting in two mammoth 120 minutes shifts in Champions League finals in his first three years. In Milan, he assisted Sergio Ramos’ opener, played a great game offensively and defensively over the 120 minutes, then calmly slotted his penalty in the shootout while being injured.
On the night of La Decima, when the camera panned to Gareth Bale during the euphoric celebrations, the commentator from the TV studio said something along the lines of, “Money can’t buy you happiness, but it can buy Gareth Bale from Tottenham, he can win you the Champions League and that basically is happiness”. While there is exaggeration in that statement, for Real Madrid fans it is probably not that untrue. Bale’s transfer was one of the most successful transfers in sports history. As he says goodbye to the sport, let us rejoice in the good things only. He is a Real Madrid legend after all.