Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale: ‘I’ve improved, I have more variety’

Winger wants to show more than just speed when making highly emotional return to San Siro for Champions League final against Atlético Madrid

So to San Siro. When Gareth Bale walks on to the pitch on Saturday there will be something familiar about it all. Another European Cup final against Atlético Madrid for Real Madrid and back where it all began for him. For the first time Bale returns to the stadium where he scored that hat-trick against Internazionale: the prelude to another meeting in which the destruction of the defender was so complete that not only did White Hart Lane call a taxi for Maicon but he would have happily taken it, too. The prelude for an entire career, in fact.

That, certainly, is how Bale sees it. Something shifted at San Siro; something started, too. “We lost in Milan,” the Welshman says, easing into a chair in the small room where he takes Spanish lessons at Real Madrid’s Valdebebas headquarters, “but it felt like we won and that game was the reason I wanted to play in the Champions League. It was the game that gave me the confidence to know I could play against the best. To score a hat-trick against the reigning European champions … my confidence grew, belief. And I haven’t looked back from there, really.”

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