Greatness is hard to come by and few individuals can be defined by that term. It’s what most soccer players are longing to achieve, but logic will explain how that endeavor will ultimately fall short. The few soccer players who possess the title of greatness all have one thing in common and that’s a knack for performing on the biggest stage. It’s what takes Lionel Messi to another level and other players who find that extra strength when it matters the most. I believe Gareth Bale possesses this trait and it will help him become a very successful player for Real Madrid.
Gareth Bale’s first season for Madrid has been good, not great, but it’s been good enough to convince Madrid supporters that he will eventually be the focal point of the team. His performances may never be great enough to induce people to attest that the $100 million price tag was worth it, but at the moment I can only think of three players who are truly worth that figure: Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Critics will harp on the fact that Gareth Bale is technically inferior to his galactico teammates. He can be one-dimensional, seem uncertain about his direction and at times defers to Ronaldo to a fault. However, the most intriguing aspect about his game that I admire and also believe will be the driving force to his career is his ability to conjure an extraordinary goal at the right moment.
Transitioning to a foreign league has been historically challenging for British players. Besides the likes of David Beckham, Paul Gascoigne, Steve McManaman and a few others, replicating impressive performances from their native league has been difficult for players of British origin. That is why Gareth Bale needs time. Bale has shown flashes of brilliance this year that I consider enough credence to give him the benefit of the doubt. Last week was a proper example of that. He scored a screamer of a goal that only a few of his teammates duplicate.
Bale has also had impressive performances during important matches this season. He was marvelous against Juventus, which was also the most meaningful Champions League match for Real Madrid this year. That wasn’t a surprise to fans who have followed his career. He customarily brought his best for the matches against top premier league teams – sometimes even a one-man-show, leaving his own teammates in awe of his blistering pace and magical goals. This could also happen at Real, but time and patience is needed for Bale to blossom into that great play. The great players find a way to produce that magic when others are struggling. It’s an innate trait that some can tap into to produce performances of the ages. Bale has a few of those on his resume and there is more to come. All we have to do is sit back and enjoy the ride.