Gareth Bale says the criticism he has received has been “disgusting” and that those responsible “should all be ashamed of themselves'” after he spearheaded another glorious night for Welsh football.
Bale scored two stunning goals at Rob Page’s men beat Austria 2-1 in their World Cup play-off semi-final match at Cardiff City Stadium. They are now just one step away from the tournament in Qatar, with a game against Scotland or Ukraine awaiting them later this year.
In the build-up to the match, Bale had once again come under the spotlight from sections of the Spanish press over his perceived fitness problems. On the morning of the match he was labelled a “parasite” by Marca; accompanying a headline which read, simply, “The Welsh Parasite”, their website has mocked up an image of Bale’s face on a parasite’s body, appearing to suck blood from the Real Madrid badge.
Read more: The best pictures from the night Welsh football edged closer to World Cup dream
Asked about his celebrations post-match and whether he was sending a message out to his critics, Bale told Sky Sports: “No. I don’t need to send a message, honestly. It’s a waste of my time. It’s disgusting, they should all be ashamed of themselves. I’m not fussed. End of.”
Team-mate Aaron Ramsey leapt to the defence of Bale during the same interview. “It’s not been easy for him,” said the Rangers man.
“Him coming and playing for his country means everything. You can see that in the way he plays. We’re a great group here, we all get on very well and we want to play and work hard for each other. He’s no different. He can produce moments of magic like that in the game, so we’re grateful to have him here.”
Wales face either Scotland or Ukraine in the World Cup play-off final in June. An exact date for the contest in Cardiff will be announced by FIFA in due course. You can read more about that here.