Gareth Frank Bale (born 16 July 1989) is a Welsh footballer who plays for Real Madrid and the Wales national team as a wing back.
Bale began his professional career at Southampton, playing at left back, earning acclaim as a free kick specialist. Since transferring to Spurs in 2007, managerial and tactical shifts have seen him transform into a more offensively-oriented player. Recently, Bale has played an integral role in Tottenham’s success domestically and in the Champions League.
Bale was born in Cardiff to parents Frank, a school caretaker, and Debbie, an operations manager; he attended Eglwys Newydd Primary School at Whitchurch. He is the nephew of former Cardiff City footballer Chris Pike. It was while at this school he first came to the attention of Southampton at age nine, when he was playing in a six-a-side tournament with his first club, Cardiff Civil Service Football Club. Growing up his football hero was fellow Welshman and Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs.
Bale then attended Whitchurch High School in Cardiff. He was a keen athlete and played football alongside Wales flanker and captain Sam Warburton, rugby, hockey and excelled at athletics. As a 14 year old he says that he ran the 100 metre sprint in 11.4 seconds. Because of his superior footballing skill, the school’s PE teacher, Gwyn Morris, had to write special rules which restricted Bale to playing one-touch football and not using his left foot. Whilst at Whitchurch, Bale trained at Southampton’s satellite academy in Bath, although there was initially some doubt if Southampton would give him a scholarship due to his height.
Despite being only 16 at the time, he helped the school’s under-18 side win the Cardiff & Vale Senior Cup. He left school in the summer of 2005 with a Grade A in PE amongst his GCSE results. In his final year at school, he was awarded the PE department’s prize for services to sport. In the presentation, Morris commented:
“Gareth has a fierce determination to succeed and has the character and qualities to achieve his personal goals. He is one of the most unselfish individuals that I have had the pleasure to help educate.” (wikipedia)