Gareth Bale has expressed his gratitude to former Real Madrid boss Rafa Benitez for “listening to me and giving me more responsibility”.
Bale was perceived to have been below his usual standards in 2014-15, having spent the season “isolated on the right wing”, but Benitez’s appointment last summer coincided with the Welshman being given the influential role of No 10.
Although he has since returned to the right wing under Zinedine Zidane, the former Tottenham Hotspur man retains the freedom of movement afforded to him by the 55-year-old, both of which have combined to result in his best La Liga goal return.
“[On Rafa Benitez], I felt isolated out on the wing and I wasn’t able to do what I wanted to do and give my best for the club,” he told the Times.
“He [Benitez] listened to me, and gave me more responsibility which was what I wanted. I had a good relationship with him.
“He speaks very good English which helps me. I was able to speak to him a lot.
“We had things in common from working in England. I just enjoyed working with him.”