Robert Page says Spanish media attack on Gareth Bale ‘made my blood boil’
As he waits to discover the date of Wales’ World Cup playoff final, Robert Page has taken a swipe at Spanish media and their treatment of Gareth Bale.
In Wales he is adored by fans, but Bale’s fractious relationship with the Spanish press came to a head last month when football newspaper Marca labelled him a ‘parasite’.
Speaking publicly for the first time about the press coverage in Spain, Bale issued a statement hitting back at the abuse he has suffered.
Now, in a wide-ranging interview with The Athletic, Wales gaffer Page has had his say.
“I’m absolutely appalled by it,” he said. “I know Gareth well now and a lot of people don’t see what he does off the pitch, the donations he made to the NHS recently, to a hospital in Cardiff — a considerable amount of money.
“He doesn’t get credit for that because he doesn’t shout about it and people don’t hear about it. He keeps it to himself. That parasite comment made my blood boil. I don’t like that. That’s not the Gareth Bale who is the captain of our country, who represents us. And he never will be that.”
With Bale soon to leave Madrid, Page said that where his captain ends up appears to hinge son whether Wales qualify for the World Cup in Qatar.
“If we get to the World Cup in November, then he will definitely be playing football,” said the manager. “The World Cup is his dream, the one thing missing from his CV. Where he’ll play, I’m not sure; whether he comes home, stays in Spain, fancies another challenge, I really don’t know.”
Page also shed light on the development of coaching at all age groups in the Football Association of Wales set-up and how it has evolved so successfully.
“Five years ago Geraint Williams did it all on his own,” said Page. “He oversaw all the age groups. What it meant was you couldn’t have the U-17s, 19s and 21s on camp at the same time because you’ve only got one coach. How he did it, I don’t know.
“The biggest thing for me was to change that, to bring in more coaches so that at every camp every single Welsh player is getting some education in the Welsh Way. I was fully supported by the FAW. I brought in Paul Bodin as assistant — a very good coach. Within two months, Rob Edwards also came in.
“We had to justify bringing Liverpool’s or Man United’s best young players away. If we fall short, the club have every right to question how their players will benefit. They need to know how their boys are going to be coached, what they will be taught. We had to change.
“Dragon Park was built in Newport, Colliers Park in Wrexham, plus the Vale of Glamoragn. We have three elite facilities we can offer these players and clubs need to know that. It’s not just at the age groups but also with the seniors — we can’t fall short of what Real Madrid and Juventus do because that’s the benchmark. That’s what we’ve got right and again that goes back to Gary Speed. Chris Coleman continued it. Players can be given no excuses. I’ve just kept the wheels rolling.”
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