Gareth Bale reflects on two Champions League in three years by admitting the competition was a major attraction to move to Real Madrid.
Bale is one of three contenders to be named the Best Player in Europe for 2016, with teammate Cristiano Ronaldo and Atletico Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann, and spoke to UEFA’s official website about his year, picking out his highlights.
“Winning the Champions League final. It'd been a long hard season and it was a very difficult final against Atletico Madrid, but we kept going, kept fighting and ultimately got the prize we wanted,” he said.
“We felt confident we could win, although they always make it difficult for us. My ultimate memory is the penalty shoot-out – having cramp and just being able to go and take the penalty. Some nights they go in for you, some they don't. But that night we all stepped up, we all did our job and no matter how you win, it's always great.
“It was an incredible season, especially topping it off by winning the Champions League and then going on to Euro 2016 and doing an amazing job with Wales. They were two great moments in my career, in my life.
“[The Champions League] is the reason I came to Madrid – to play in the Champions League, to win the Champions League. Two in three years is an amazing achievement. Now we want to look to the next one. It's obviously a massive motivation for us all to be the first team to retain the Champions League.
“After winning the first Champions League, I knew the [UEFA] Super Cup was in Cardiff, so it was an amazing moment for me personally. But to have the [next] Champions League final in my home town is an even bigger motivation.”
Bale credited Zinedine Zidane and Luka Modric for their influence over Los Blancos, having played with the latter at Tottenham Hotspur.
“Luka is vitally important. He is an amazing player, I have played with him for a long time and I am obviously very honoured to play with such a great player. He's the hub of the team, he makes things tick, he's just an all-around good footballer,” Bale noted.
“[Zidane] has got that experience of winning as a player and obviously as a coach [as Carlo Ancelotti's assistant] when we won the first Champions League. He's massively helpful to everybody and his experience showed in the end.”