Bale glad for ‘hard’ second year

Gareth Bale admits his second year at Real Madrid was harder than his first but ‘you learn more about yourself.’

Bale was speaking to Rio Ferdinand in a programme for BT Sport previewing the Champions League Final and admitted that after winning the trophy in 2014, in his first season at Santiago Bernabeu, the campaign that followed as far more difficult.

“The first season I found it quite good. I think you’re running off emotions, you’re excited to be here. The second season really brought me back down to earth,” he confirmed.

“But I think it was the best thing that happened to me last year. I think you obviously learn when you win but I think you learn more about yourself when you go through those hard times. It wasn’t a great year for me personally but I feel like now I’ve come out stronger. I’ve come out fighting. It’s shown my character.

“I feel a lot more comfortable, I’m a lot more involved with the team. I speak a bit better Spanish and I just feel like I’m growing again.

“Obviously in the first year as well winning the Champions League and the Copa del Rey. Such high moments. And then you have to emulate them again to keep right up there. I was in a different culture, a different language, in a different country. It’s difficult for my family as well not speaking the language properly.

“It was a difficult time but, as I said, I think you learn so much more about yourself. Obviously at the time you wish you don’t go through those difficult periods but once you come out the other side you feel a lot stronger for it. If those things were to happen again you’d know how to deal with them and improve as a player.”

Bale acknowledged that the difficulties of which he speaks affected his game but feels that he has improved on the pitch as he has settled down off it.

“The more comfortable you feel in any team the better you play. You start demanding the ball, you get confident. In the changing room a few of the players speak English. There’s obviously some people in the club who have really helped me, they speak English as well as Spanish, and help me settle in and try to speak Spanish with me and get me to speak it more and have given me good advice,” he noted.

“Obviously the managers as well. I think [Rafa] Benitez gave me a bit more responsibility at the start of the season which I felt I could feed off a bit and it gave me a lot of confidence. I put in some good performances and then [Zinedine] Zidane came in and carried that on and I felt like I’ve just kept growing in confidence and stature.”

Watch ‘Rio Meets…Gareth Bale’ on BT Sport 2 at 8.45pm tonight. BT Sport is your home of unmissable live football, watch the UEFA Champions League final exclusively live from Saturday 28th May from 7pm on BT Sport Europe, BT Sport Showcase, btsport.com and for the first time ever on YouTube at youtube.com/btsportofficial

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