News » What can Bellingham learn from Bale's time in Real Madrid? on 2023-11-29 10:06:25
What can Bellingham learn from Bale's time in Real Madrid?
The kind of things, more or less, that Bellingham has been advised to do before, in other words. Right here, in fact. Of course what matters most, or is supposed to, is how well you play, the goals you score, the trophies you win. And if you don't do that well, forget it. But that's not the only thing that matters, and you can't entirely separate the sport from the rest of it anyway, living in splendid isolation; it's certainly not the only thing that will determine how you feel about the experience and how they feel about you, the legacy you leave.

In the end, going abroad is not just about playing, it is about being. It is about living it, embracing it. Enjoying it too, if you can. It is about, yes, playing the game. As Homer Simpson, the greatest philosopher of our time, put it: it's funny because it's true. There is something in Bale's numbers and his experience, the disconnect between them, that bears out what he said; something that speaks to the way narratives are built, the way people are perceived, how success is dependent on sentiment, too.

Bale's words showed a man stung, and there was something in them. The treatment, he would be entitled to believe, was not always the best. There was a degree of rejection, even derision, that was sometimes hard to square with what he had actually achieved. There was a line in one newspaper not so long ago, when Eden Hazard had gone months without playing, injured again and increasingly irrelevant, which said something like: Hazard, halfway to becoming Bale. He wishes he was halfway to becoming a Bale. He retired having never even got close.