The Real Madrid superstar inspired Wales to qualification for Euro 2016, and says that he never intended to play for the Three Lions, despite an approach in his formative years
Gareth Bale says he turned down the chance to play for England in “one second” following his heroics in helping Wales qualify for Euro 2016.
The Real Madrid superstar scored seven goals in 10 games as Wales qualified for the finals in France next summer, becoming the first Dragons team to do so since the 1958 World Cup.
Bale qualified to play for the England through his grandmother’s heritage, but insists he never had any intention of switching allegiances despite the chance he’d be more likely to play tournament football with the Three Lions.
“I was really young at the time and my agent was involved, but it was literally a one-second conversation,” he told the Daily Mirror. “I just said, ‘Stop – it’s never going to happen.’
“I’m from Wales and I love Wales. Everyone knows how much I love playing for Wales. My grandmother is English, but I’m Welsh and that’s it. It was never an option.”
Wales sealed qualification for the tournament last week, despite a 2-0 loss to Bosnia-Herzegovina, and capped their qualification campaign in style with a comfortable win over Andorra on Tuesday.
“It still feels like a dream that we’ve actually made it to the finals. Every campaign we start off saying we can do it, but there was a bit more belief this time,” he added.
“A few of us have more than 50 caps, and although the expectation went up and the pressure mounts with every game, we just tried to embrace it. As soon as we got the ball rolling, the momentum just took us.
“We were keeping clean sheets, we were nicking 1-0 wins, it was the perfect campaign.
“We just adopted the mentality of winners and we’ve proved how good we are. I don’t mean to be disrespectful to the team of 1958, but I believe they didn’t qualify outright, so we are the first Wales team who have done it 100 per cent – and I take a lot of pride in that.”