Gareth Bale’s agent Jonathan Barnett has sparked a debate about where Gareth Bale ranks in the list of British footballing greats.
Bale produced two terrific strikes on Thursday – one in each half of Wales’ World Cup play-off semi-final – as they won 2-1 against Austria to move within one game of ending their 64-year wait to play at a World Cup.
Wales have played at the last two European Championships, but not at a World Cup since reaching the quarter-finals in Sweden in 1958.
His match-winning performance for his country came just days after he had missed the El Clasico clash between Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Real manager Carlo Ancelotti had said he “didn’t feel well”, with the Wales management saying he had a “little niggle”.
Bale, who has played just 77 minutes of club football since the end of August following hamstring and calf injuries, has been heavily criticised in the Madrid media.
One media outlet described him as a “parasite” and Bale was asked after the game whether his goal celebrations had sent a message to his critics.
Bale said he did not need to send a message, adding: “I don’t need to say anything, it’s a waste of my time.
“It’s disgusting. They should be ashamed of themselves. I am not fussed, end of.”
There are big questions about where Bale will be playing next season when his contract at Real Madrid expires. Barnett, Bale’s representative, told the Daily Telegraph: “Gareth doesn’t know what will happen in the summer, and everything depends on Wales.
“We haven’t spoken to anybody and it will be a decision he makes at some time in June.
“It’s unbelievable they [Real Madrid] haven’t played him, because he can still do things, as everybody saw on Thursday night.
“If they got him into that team and involved, they would have a great player but we’ll live with it and get on with it.
“He’s the greatest player that has ever played for Wales, and one of the greatest Britain has ever produced.”
But TalkSPORT pundit and former England player Trevor Sinclair thinks Kenny Dalglish is the best ever British player. He said: “I was a massive Kenny Dalglish fan, back in the day, for what he did at Celtic and then obviously went on to do really well for Liverpool.
“I remember him sticking his backside in, he was very strong, clever and had an unbelievable finish, so I think Kenny.”
On whether Bale has secured legendary status for Wales, former Crystal Palace chairman Simon Jordan replied: “Of course he has.
“If you’ve scored goals in Champions League finals for one of the biggest clubs in terms of reputation and achieving, at certain times, the level that he’s achieved there.
“Also playing such a key role in the rise and ascension of Welsh football, of course you do. It’s difficult to understand why this huge talents finds himself in such a difficult position in Spain.
“He hasn’t just found it with one manager, he’s found it with two managers in Madrid so there has to be a common denominator which appears to be him.
“In the last couple of years there’s an argument to suggest that there’s more to be done. I don’t think he’s helped himself.
“They take football remarkably seriously in Madrid, Steve McManaman didn’t have this sort of reaction, but to achieve what he did for Wales last night – he scored two phenomenal goals, you wonder where Wales would be without this level of talent available to them, so you have to give credit where credit is due.”