Page praises 'class' Madrid fans for Bale support as Wales eye World Cup qualification

By Sports Desk May 31, 2022

Wales boss Rob Page praised the Real Madrid fans for their "class" after greeting Gareth Bale with a standing ovation at their Champions League title celebrations.

Bale has endured a turbulent spell in the Spanish capital, despite scoring in three Champions League finals for Madrid and winning the competition with Los Blancos on five occasions.

The most recent of those came on Saturday in a 1-0 win over Liverpool, with Bale an unused substitute as Madrid lifted a 14th European Cup, which is more than double any other side.

The Wales international has been much maligned by Madrid fans during his time in Spain, as supporters and the Spanish media have questioned his commitment to the club.

However, Bale's appearance at the Santiago Bernabeu celebrations on Sunday was met with rapturous applause, signalling a fitting end as the 32-year-old prepares to move on when his contract expires in June.

Page expressed his gratitude to Madrid fans for that support after Bale linked up with Wales, who have the Nations League and a crucial World Cup qualifying play-off match to contend with in the next week.

"I thought they showed class and rightly so for what he's achieved for that football club," Page told reporters on Tuesday.

"You look back to what he's done, scoring winners in Champions League finals and in the manner in which he's done it.

"What an achievement for him personally to be a part of that group of people, that team that's achieved that, is phenomenal.

"Not many players can say they've done that, so credit to him. He deserves all the plaudits, absolutely. He's in good spirits as he always is.

"He was adamant he was meeting the players in Portugal to fly to Poland with them, which speaks volumes.

"He wanted to be with the squad as soon as possible. He's as humble as ever, he's met up with the group and he's been first class right away."

Wales face Poland in the Nations League on Wednesday before facing either Scotland or Ukraine for a place in the World Cup in Qatar.

Page suggested he will name a rotated side for the clash in Wroclaw, where Bale, Aaron Ramsey and Brennan Johnson will likely be rested, as Wales eye a first World Cup appearance since 1958.

"It's risk and reward," Page said on selection. "The biggest game we've got is on Sunday and that's no disrespect to Poland whatsoever.

"We're going to show them complete respect, but we'd be mad to jeopardise our top, top players."

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